What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

A person who dies without leaving a valid Last Will & Testament (Will) is said to have died intestate.

This can cause serious headaches with the administration of their estate.

Wills contain several important pieces of information. The two most crucial components are the naming of your Personal Representative(s) or Executor (PR) and the descriptions of who is inheriting what.

The PR is the person named in a Court Order to administer your estate.

This person is responsible for filing all required paperwork with the Register of Wills in a timely manner, paying valid debt, and distributing remaining assets properly.

Not having a valid Will means you lose control of what happens to your assets after you die.

When a person dies without a will, the statutes and cases interpreting them to control the appointment of a PR. If everyone inheriting agrees and consents to the appointment of a particular individual to serve as PR this can be an easy process. However, if there are disagreements, a court hearing will be necessary.

Without a valid Will, state law also controls the distribution of assets.

Your spouse may have been the only intended beneficiary of your net estate, but by dying intestate you may have given others such as your children the right to inherit certain amounts.

Other concerns created by dying intestate include:

  • The necessity to obtain a court order to pay debt that is above the statutory limitation;
  • Instead of a surviving spouse receiving the entire net distribution form my estate, it will be split with their children;
  • Other relatives may feel “cheated” from their inheritance
  • A potential court fight to appoint a Guardian for minor children

If you have any questions about intestacy, wills, or any other elder law matter please contact Richard Abraham of Abraham, Esquire.

Planning ahead is a gift to your loved ones!