Emotions typically run high when a person dies. Unfortunately, death does not always bring out the best in people. These reactions are even more heightened when the deceased does not have a will in place.
If a person dies without a will, it is known as dying “intestate.” The resulting settlement of an intestate death may have different results than the deceased, and their families, would prefer.
As much as most would prefer their family to mourn and ultimately move on living their lives, unfortunately, the death of a loved one can cause an incredible amount of tension in the family, especially if there is a lack of a valid will in place.
Due to differing socio-economic status amongst family members, there are several scenarios that cause feuds in families. The fighting does not only include how much money or where material possessions go, but also who handles the decisions on those factors.
An older brother may want to manage all of the money to ensure it is not wasted. The oldest child may feel entitled to handling the distribution. A spouse may not want to part ways with anything until after mourning the death. The scenarios are countless with feuding families, but most of which can be prevented by having a valid will in place.
When it comes to material possessions that have sentiment and substantial monetary value, confusion and anxiety can take control of the situation.
A family heirloom, for example, could be a valuable piece of jewelry. This piece of jewelry can have a substantial amount of sentimental value to the entire family. In addition to the sentimental value, the piece of jewelry could have considerable monetary value. To some, this family heirloom cannot have a price put on, but for others, the money that could be had by selling off this piece of estate is completely practical.
Having a valid will in place allows for specific instructions on who get family heirlooms and whether or not you intend for preservation or sale.
Time and Money
Without a will in place, the time the legal process can take can be excruciating for your family. In addition to time, it can increase the cost. Without a will, the fiduciary needs to obtain bond generally in the amount of two times the assets. It can become expensive. With a will in place, you can waive bond for your fiduciary. Also, with a will you can give your executor the power of sale to dispose of property without court approval. Again, this can save your family time and money.
Death of a partner, especially when unmarried, can be devastating. That is because intestacy laws only recognize relatives. This can leave the surviving partner with nothing but a memory.
If one dies while single, and with no children, the entire estate will go to the parents (if living). If there are no living parents and no siblings, the estate will be split between the family of the mother of the deceased and the family of the father of the deceased.
Death while married, without a will, can always be extremely complicated as well. While in some cases the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse, there are other cases where distribution can go to siblings and/or parents.
If both native parents pass away and leave behind a child, or children, without a will, the probate court will appoint guardianship to whom they decide has the best interest of the child. While ideally the child, or children, would live with someone they know well, in some instances, that is not the case.
Death without a will can be emotional and troublesome for the loved ones left behind. Not having a will in place can complicate things even further. Feuding families, family heirlooms, the type of funeral, and many other scenarios can mostly be avoided by having a will in place.
If you have any worry or anxiety about yourself, or someone you love, dying without a will, please contact a lawyer here at HML. We are here to help you fully understand what may happen to you if you die without a will, and help you draft a valid will. Give yourself, and your loved ones, some peace of mind and get started by contacting us today.