A person that dies without a Last Will and Testament is known to have died intestate. Dying intestate or without a Will can result in unintended consequences as well as chaos because the decedent’s property and possessions will then be distributed to their heirs in accordance with the laws of the state. When this happens, a decedent’s intended wishes for the distribution of their assets and possessions will not always be carried out.
If a person passes away without heirs such as a spouse, children, or parents, the following groups of individuals would inherit the decedent’s estate:
- Paternal grandparents and maternal grandparents;
- Paternal aunts and uncles and maternal aunts and uncles;
- Paternal aunt’s and uncle’s children and maternal aunt’s and uncle’s children; and
- Paternal cousin’s children and maternal cousin’s children.
More often than not, the laws of the state of intestacy do not necessarily reflect how a decedent would want his or her assets distributed, particularly if you are involved in a non-traditional domestic relationship. Sometimes, a person may not have a relationship with their aunts, uncles or cousins and they may not have ever even met them. The laws of intestacy do not leave any assets or possessions to partners, friends, or charitable organizations.
Create an Estate Plan to Ensure Your Wishes Are Carried Out
Contact an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer that will assist in creating a comprehensive estate plan that can include a Last Will and Testament, advanced directives, and a power of attorney. Establishing a comprehensive estate plan will decrease future costs and avoid contentious disputes. In addition, it is important to note that an estate plan should be periodically reviewed to reflect any major life changes.
Even if you are a single person, it is important to create a comprehensive estate plan in order to leave those closest to you or any preferred charitable organizations assets upon your death. The experienced New Jersey estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney assist individuals with 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.