What Happens If You Die Without a Will?
May 31, 2017
If you are like most people, having a Last Will and Testament drafted is something that you know you should do, but have not gotten around to actually doing. Many married people assume that when you pass away everything will be given to your surviving spouse, so there is nothing to worry about. For some that is the case, but not for all. If you pass away without a will, your property will be divided according to the intestate laws of the state where you live.
The laws of intestate succession depend on if you were single, married or had children at the time of your death. Let’s discuss each scenario for the State of Wisconsin.
SINGLE WITH NO CHILDREN
In this case, your parents would inherit equal shares of your property if both were still living or, if only one is still living, 100% to the surviving parent. If both of your parents have passed away, then your property would go to your siblings. If you had no living siblings, your property would be given to your sibling’s children. If you had no living family members, then your entire estate will go to the State of Wisconsin as unclaimed property known as escheat.
SINGLE WITH CHILDREN
In this case, your children would inherit 100% of your estate. However, if any of your children are under the age of 18 years and you have died without a will, the court will decide who is appointed as guardian of your children’s inheritance and who is appointed as guardian of your children themselves. Obviously, who takes care of your children and the money they have inherited is a decision that you want to make, not the court.
MARRIED WITH NO CHILDREN
In this case, your spouse will receive all your marital property but your individual property will be split between your spouse, parents and siblings according to the laws of intestate succession.
MARRIED WITH CHILDREN
In this case, it depends on if all your children are also your spouse’s children. If your children are all born from your spouse at your time of death, then your spouse will receive 100% of your estate. However, if any of your children are not your spouse’s children, then your spouse will inherit 50% of your individual property and your children will inherit 50% of your individual property plus your share of the marital property. Therefore, property you own with your spouse, such as a house, will be split between your spouse and your children.
As you can see, dying without a will in place can cause several issues. It is definitely worth the small investment of time and money to plan for your family’s future to avoid the hassle of the laws of intestate succession; not to mention the importance of a Power of Attorney.
Pedersen Law Office, LLC offers free consults in all of our areas of practice and will meet with you personally to discuss your specific circumstances and see what options are available for you. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Green Bay and their surrounding areas.