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What happens if someone dies without a will?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Estate Planning

People often turn to wills and other estate planning documents for guidance after someone dies. Estate plans can talk about the distribution of someone’s property and the care of their loved ones. Unfortunately, quite a few people die without any estate plan on record.

According to a national analysis, approximately two-thirds or 67% of all adults do not have any estate planning documents on record. If they die before they get around to drafting wills, their loved ones may end up facing a relatively complex process in succession court. Even intelligent, responsible adults with plenty of assets in their names sometimes fail to plan appropriately before they die.

What happens if people die without wills in place?

State law guides intestate estates

Louisiana has laws addressing what should happen to personal property if someone dies without a will. There are protections in place specifically for the close family members of the decedent, including their spouse and any children they may have. More distant family members can inherit if people die without a spouse or other immediate family members to survive them. In cases where people do not have any surviving family, the state may eventually receive their property.

Those who have large families or specific wishes regarding who inherited what property from their estates may very well find that intestate succession rules don’t really meet their needs. People may want to leave money for charitable causes. They may have friends or distant relatives who they’d like to leave assets for after their passing. There are countless personal circumstances that make intestate succession laws insufficient.

The process of drafting an estate plan does not need to be difficult and stressful. With the right support, testators can quickly put protections in place for their closest family members and other dependents. They can create a legacy that meaningfully reflects their values. A will can give someone control over their legacy instead of letting state law determine who receives their property.

Those who understand what is at risk should they die without an estate plan may finally make the decision to draft a will and other testamentary documents. Adults in Louisiana who take control of their legacies can feel more confident about what will happen after they die.