Your Family Matters

What happens to your property if you die without a will?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Estate Planning

Dying without a will is known as dying intestate. If that happens, the person’s property must be distributed based on a one-size-fits-all plan under Illinois’ law of intestate succession. The result may not be at all what the person would have intended had they crafted an estate plan.

Illinois law is clear on distributing property in an intestate case

According to state law for dying intestate, the person’s property is distributed in a specific manner. This hinges on their family situation, if they were married, had children and more. Those who were married and have a surviving spouse and children will see their property divided in the following way: half will go to the spouse and half will go to their children. If they did not have a surviving spouse but had children, it will all go to the children.

For people with a surviving spouse and no children, it all goes to the spouse. With no surviving spouse or children, it will pass along to living relatives like parents and siblings, divided equally. The property will continue down the line to grandparents, uncles, aunts and other relatives if there are no living parents or siblings.

Those who have no family members will see their property awarded to the state. If, for example, they owned a home or other form of real estate, it will be awarded to the county where it is located. Personal property will be awarded to the county where the person resided. Depending on the circumstances, it can also be delivered to the State Treasurer.

Know the value of having a will

A will can specify which heirs are entitled to what; who will care for minor children; caring for pets; and making sure digital assets are addressed. Even a basic will can address these and other considerations. Those who own a business or have other assets that can be of substantial value need to know what might happen if they do not move forward with estate planning.

People inevitably find many justifications for putting off estate planning. Some might think they do not have enough property to make it worthwhile. Others believe they are young enough or in good enough health that it can wait. It is a mistake to ignore the fundamental needs to protect property and the importance of estate planning.