What Happens If You Pass Away Without a Will?

by | Jul 27, 2020 | Financial Planning

At Mullooly Asset Management, we provide comprehensive financial planning for our clients right here in Monmouth County, NJ and beyond.  No financial plan is complete without an estate plan.

Within your estate plan, creating a will should be the very first step. Creating a will gives you the opportunity to make sure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone.

Typically, the cost of preparing a basic will is a few hundred dollars. For many people, it only takes a day or two to draw up the will and protect their beneficiaries. There are plenty of great attorneys here at the Jersey Shore to help you draw up your will.

If you don’t create a will, the state will typically decide how to distribute your property. However, laws and details vary greatly from state to state and based on your marital and familial status. Even if you don’t live in New Jersey, here are five common scenarios of what could happen if you don’t have a will.

Married With Children

If you’re married and die without a will, then assets that are “jointly owned” go to the co-owner (usually a spouse or child) without going to probate court. However, separately owned property and accounts typically are distributed by the state, which may award one-third to one-half of the assets to a surviving spouse, with the remainder split among the children.

Married With No Kids or Grandkids

If a married person with no kids dies without a will, some states will give the entire estate to the surviving widow or widower. Check to see your specific state rules because there may be a cap of $100,000 in certain states. Other states give one-third to one-half of the deceased’s estate to the spouse with the rest going to the deceased’s parents or siblings. The jointly owned assets goes to the surviving co-owner.

Single With Children

If someone is unmarried with kids when they pass, all state laws give the deceased’s assets to surviving children in equal shares. If an adult child of the decedent is dead, their share is split among their children (the decedent’s grandchildren).

Single With No Kids or Grandkids

For unmarried people with no children, most states will typically favor the person’s parents if they are still alive. If not, many states will divide the property among the decedent’s siblings (or nephews and nieces if the siblings are no longer alive). If there is no living kin, the state will typically get the estate.

Unmarried Couples

If you are not married to your partner, dying without a will can devastate your partner financially. Intestacy laws only recognize spouses and relatives. Unmarried couples don’t inherit their partner’s property if one of them dies with no will. Instead, the decedent’s property is distributed among relatives and the partner isn’t legally entitled to anything.

Even if the laws in your state match your wishes in terms of the dispersal of your estate, it’s important to carefully weigh your options. Preparing a will helps you take care of loved ones should you pass away. It can also safeguard your property and money from becoming assets of the state.

Most people enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have done everything in your power to protect those you love the most. Working with a financial planner can help you get started building out your estate plan!  We would be happy to speak with you.  Click here to schedule a meeting today!  There is no cost or obligation.

Join our Newsletter


Future-Proof Your Finances

Download the 25-Year Success Strategy

Enter your email & get this free PDF download to help you prepare for the next 25 years.  We will send periodic updates as well. Unsubscribe at any time.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This