Do you know that dying without a will can lead to serious legal problems? If you feel that you have some responsibility towards your family, then make a will immediately. This way, you can save your loved ones from the disastrous legal consequences on the sudden occasion of your death.

“On July 4, 2009, NFL quarterback Steve McNair was found murdered in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee. McNair didn't have a will at the time of his death. In legal jargon, this is known as dying intestate.”

What does it mean when a person dies intestate?
When a person has died without a will, he or she is said to be “intestate”.

Two negative consequences of dying without a will

1. The legal aftershock

If you have too many assets, then the result can be disastrous. The laws of the state where you live will decide the distribution of your property. Also, in advance, you can’t decide whom you’ll be giving a share of your property. The aftereffect can be just the opposite of what you wanted it to happen. It can also lead to bitter situations among your heirs.

2. The tax aftershock

If you die without a signing a will and don’t opt for any tax avoidance method, then negative tax consequences may crop up for your estate and your heirs. Both the federal and state governments can levy taxes on the transfer of your property and also the property that is given to your heirs.

From the above context, it is clear that dying without leaving a will can be dreadful for your family members and relatives.
So, what is the solution to the above two problems?
Well, the easiest way out is to ‘create a will.’
Do you want to know who’ll receive your property if you expire without a will? Yes? Then, check this out!

Who gets your property if you die without leaving a will?

If a person dies without a will, then the court decides how the property will be distributed. The whole estate goes in the hands of the state if no relatives are found. Check out how your property will be distributed if you die without a will:

# When you are single and have no children then:
* Your living parents will receive the whole estate if both are alive, or
* Your surviving parent will get the entire property if one has already passed away, or
* The property will be equally divided among your siblings if you have no surviving parents, or
* If there is no surviving parents, siblings, or offspring of siblings, then the property is divided into two halves. One-half will go to the relatives on your mother’s side, and the remaining one-half will go to the relatives on your father’s side.

# When you are single and have children then:
* Your estate will be equally divided among your children, or
* If any one of your children dies before you, then his or her children, that is your grandchildren will receive your deceased child’s share.

# When you are married and have no children then:
* Your surviving spouse will get the entire estate, or
* Your estate will be divided among your surviving spouse, siblings, and parents.
All these depend on how your assets are owned at the time of your death.

# When you are married and have children then:
* All your estate will go to your surviving spouse if all your children are from your surviving spouse, or
* One-half of the property will go to your surviving spouse, and the remaining portion to your surviving children from another spouse or partner.

# If you have an unmarried partner, then:
* Your partner might not receive a share of your estate according to the laws of intestacy, which only recognize the relatives of a deceased, and
* The property gets divided among relatives depending on their relation with the deceased.

# If you have a domestic partner when you die, then he or she receives the same as a surviving spouse. This totally depends on how your property is owned. Remember, all the states don’t recognize domestic partnerships. So, you must check out the estate planning laws of your state.


“Texas’ Probate Code spells out precisely who inherits real and personal property when someone dies without a will. By drafting a will, you can decide for yourself who gets what.”

Who will get your property if you die intestate and have assets subject to probate, or if you die leaving a will but not all your assets are passed through the will? Well, if this happens, the distribution of property depends on various factors. In Texas, the division of property is based upon the following factors:

  • If the property is real or personal, separate or community and
  • If you have a spouse, children (or their heirs), or any other kinsman.

What are things that don’t get passed by a will?

Find out the valuables that are neither passed by a will nor get affected by the intestate succession laws:

  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Property that is shifted to a living trust
  • Cash reserved in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts
  • Bonds hold back in a transfer-on-death account
  • Money kept in payable-on-death account, or
  • Property held in a joint tenancy.

Who can challenge your will?

Your relatives can challenge your will in court. They can do so if they feel that they’re being cheated and done injustice by not giving a proper share of your property. To nullify a will, they’ve to prove that the will is unauthentic. For that, they need to prove -

  • Any major fault
  • Forged signature
  • Their disturbed state of mind when they’ve signed the will
  • They were under someone’s influence while signing the will, and so on.

What will happen to the deceased’s estate?

When an individual dies, his or her estate goes into the hands of his or her personal representative. The deceased’s property gets distributed by the personal representative in correspondence to the law, the will if any, or the laws of intestacy in the absence of a will.

What is the cost of making a will with a lawyer?

A lawyer would charge a flat fee to make a will irrespective of the amount of work he or she has to do. Generally, a plain and simple lawyer-drafted will would cost about $300. However, a price tag of $1,000 or $1,200 is not something unexpected.

Some estate planning lawyers charge hourly fees depending on their experience and the place of your residence. If you live in a small town, then you may expect a bill of $150 per hour. Whereas, if you reside in a city, then a bill of $200 per hour is not unusual.

A will is equally important in your life as your family members. It’ll keep your successors away from the legal hassles. No matter how little property or assets you own, writing a will before you die is really important. A valid will keeps your heirs away from the legal problems, which could arise upon your death.

So, what are you waiting for? Make it a point to sign your will today!

See more: What to do next when you are left out of the will

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