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What happens if an Illinois resident dies without a will?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2021 | Estate Planning

Planning for the future can be exciting when people consider growing their families, taking new jobs, or buying new homes. Accomplishing goals and supporting loved ones can be a priority for many during the course of their lives. However, considering these objectives in the context of one’s end-of-life planning can feel difficult. No one wants to think about their own death and what will happen to those they love.

However, when a person fails to prepare an estate plan that directs the distribution of their assets to their beneficiaries, they may lose control of having a say in what happens. That is because the Illinois intestate succession laws take over and offer a plan. Intestate succession attempts to give assets to closely related individuals after a death, but if a decedent would not have wanted some to benefit, they may be powerless to prevent it.

The basics of intestate succession

One of the first questions that is asked when a person dies, and their estate is subject to intestate succession is if the decedent was married. If they were married, their spouse may receive a large portion of the estate. When a decedent was married and had kids, the proportions of assets received by the spouse may change.

Without a spouse, a decedent’s children may receive the estate, but if a child predeceased the decedent then their portion may pass to the child’s descendants. Intestate succession becomes trickier when a person has no spouse or children; in such cases their estate may pass up to their parents and down to their siblings and siblings’ descendants if their parents are deceased as well.

Avoiding intestate succession

Intestate succession travels up and down the family tree in search of living relatives who may inherit the decedent’s estate. Though this scheme may be acceptable to some, most people want a say in what happens to their assets when they die. This is where estate planning comes in.

Estate planning is about taking control, making decisions, and directing outcomes. It does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. Many Illinois residents can benefit from executing several legal documents that will support their wishes and goals for the distribution of their assets when they pass away. Intestate succession does not leave a person with many options for control when they die.

Now is a great time for all Illinois adults to create or update their estate plans. Trusted legal advisors can offer guidance and support to those who are prepared to begin.