If you die without a will, you die “intestate.” This means that what you have worked so hard to accumulate will be distributed according to your state’s Intestacy Statute. In other words, the legislature’s general rules decide how to split up your property. Obviously, the legislature did not think about your unique situation when they made these rules.
Perhaps you would like a loved one to have a meaningful item or heirloom. Maybe one of your loved ones has greater financial need than other family members. Or maybe you have an estranged family member or an untrustworthy in-law. There are countless reasons why you may need a tailored will that reflects your situation and your wishes.
Unfortunately, the default intestacy plan usually does not distribute property and valuables to the “right” people. For example, most people want their spouse to inherit all their funds and property. But if you have children or surviving parents, your spouse will have to share your assets with them! Plus, if your children are under 18 at your death, this arrangement causes a great deal of hassle and expense since they cannot legally inherit property or take care of themselves.
Your state’s intestate statute is just a guess at what the average person would want to happen with their property. It is unlikely to be the best thing for your situation. But, the good news is that you can ensure that your loved ones are provided for by executing a will. Your state’s Intestate Statute is a default that can easily be avoided altogether.