Oftentimes, when a family member or loved one dies without a Last Will and Testament, it results in unintended consequences as well as excessive expense. When a person dies intestate or without a Will, his or her property and possessions will be distributed to their heirs in accordance with the law of the state. When this happens, a decedent’s intended wishes for the distribution of their assets and possessions will not likely be carried out. To ensure that person’s wishes are carried out upon their death a comprehensive estate plan must be created.
What Happens When A Person Dies Without a Will?
Under the laws of intestacy, a person’s property and possessions will go to their living heirs. Living heirs include the following:
- Nieces and Nephews;
- Aunts and Uncles; and
In the event that a person does not have living relatives, the state will receive the decedent’s assets and possessions. It is also important to note that when a person passes away intestate, their estate may or may not be distributed evenly to their living heirs. The existence of a spouse, children, and parents mandate that they will probably all share in an intestate estate. For instance, if a person has a spouse, he or she may get a large portion of the estate and the remainder may be distributed to other living heirs, such as their children or siblings. However, often monies go to distant relatives removed from the decedent by several generations who did not even know the decedent.
What Happens To Resources With a Designated Beneficiary When A Decedent Dies Intestate?
Resources such as a life insurance policy, a transfer-on-death stock agreement, annuities, Pension, 401k, joint bank account or IRA designate a beneficiary at the time it is set up. Even if a person dies intestate, these resources will still be distributed to the designated beneficiary as a result of the decedent’s designation, therefore, acting in accordance with their wishes. This means that the designated beneficiary will receive the proceeds from such resource. However, without a will, there is no clear designation as to who is responsible for any taxes on these assets.
How To Create an Estate Plan to Ensure A Persons Wishes Are Carried Out?
An experienced estate-planning attorney can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that will include a Last Will and Testament, Advanced Directives, Power of Attorney or even a trust to address special circumstances. Establishing a comprehensive estate plan will decrease future costs and avoid contentious disputes between family members and loved ones. In addition, it is important to note that an estate plan should be periodically reviewed to reflect any life changes.
The experienced New Jersey estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney help clients and their families handle all aspects of estate planning. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers are trusted by their clients to handle each legal matter with diligence and compassion. For more information, contact our Wayne, New Jersey estate planning law firm at (973) 256-0456.