Many of us know that it is important to have a will, even if we have not executed one yet. Still, if you die without a will you will be considered to have died intestate, and your estate will be subject to state intestacy laws. This can be problematic, as it leaves no room for your personal preferences or the preferences of your loved ones.
Intestacy and the executor
If you die intestate, the court will assign a person to serve as executor of your estate. An executor is the person who takes your estate through the probate process.
Who the court chooses as executor depends on many factors. What if the chosen executor lives in another state? They will have to travel to the state where the estate is being probated. And, what if the executor is not the person you would have chosen to fulfill this role? They will be burdened with settling your affairs whether they or you would have liked to.
Intestacy and inheritance
If you die intestate, your estate will be divided between your heirs based on state laws referred to as intestate succession. Generally, this includes leaving some to a surviving spouse and/or surviving children, and then other relations if there is no surviving spouse or surviving child.
Still, what if this means your beloved grandchildren are left without an inheritance? Or what if one of your children have problems with handling money responsibly? You may wish to leave something to more distant relations and friends or you may wish to put a condition on an inheritance, such as graduating college or attending an addiction recovery program. If you do not leave a will, the state will not take these extenuating factors into account; it will only consider state intestate succession laws.
As this shows, there are good reasons not to put off executing a will. A will is sometimes the only thing that serves as your voice once you pass away. Do not leave crucial estate planning decisions up to the state — execute a will before it is too late.