What does it mean to die intestate?

When one dies intestate, it means that they have died without a will or without a valid will. As a result of dying intestate, state law determines how the individual’s estate will be distributed. Additionally, legal heirs are decided by state law.

Intestate succession is the effect of failing to properly plan ahead, which is easily avoidable with the creation of a valid estate plan. Among others, consequences of dying intestate include:

Confusion and Disagreement Amongst Loved Ones

Regardless of whether your family is responsible and agreeable, the death of a loved one can exacerbate the potential for disagreement and tension regarding estate distribution. Grief may cause uncertainty and volatility, and many strive to lessen these feelings by leaving behind a comprehensive estate plan. Creating a well-documented, thorough, and up-to-date estate plan can mitigate the contention that could arise following your death.

Having Your Estate Undergo the Probate Process

Without a proper will, the probate process (which determines estate distribution) can be lengthy and expensive. With intestate succession, a court-appointed individual locates and manages your assets, also paying debts and court costs using your estate. It is beneficial to leave behind a valid will which names your preferred executor to manage the estate, because this individual will be prepared to accept the responsibility and follow your guidelines.

It is also worth noting that complications and disputes may arise during the probate process, if there is no will left behind to simplify estate distribution. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to make the process of estate distribution as painless as possible to all involved.

Personal Values and Preferences Could be Compromised

Without a will in place to solidify your preferences, certain decisions could be made without your input. These decisions are not only limited to material assets; Guardianship and pet care designations are just two examples of preferences you may list in your will. Your estate plan can be highly individualized to suit your needs and ensure that your wishes are met, even when you are no longer with your loved ones.

Information in this article is provided for educational purposes only and not intended to constitute legal advice. Please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction for help with your specific situation.

Save your loved ones time and stress by making your estate planning objectives clear. For assistance with Maryland estate planning, contact us at the Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith at (410) 995-7719 today.