What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
Wills and trusts are important for establishing how property and assets should be distributed after someone’s death. At Froerer & Miles, serving Ogden, UT, Layton, UT, and surrounding areas, our estate planning attorneys work closely with clients to address each person’s needs so that their final wishes are protected through a will or trust.
Although creating a will is one of the best ways to make sure a person’s wishes are followed after their death, not everyone has a will in place when they die. Dying without a will means that assets will be divided according to state law without consideration of what the deceased may have wanted.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens in Utah when someone dies without a will and what can be done so that your wishes are honored after your death.
Probate Court Makes Decisions When There’s No Will
Dying without a will means the deceased will not have control of how their assets are divided. Instead, the deceased’s estate will be processed by probate court.
In the state of Utah, probate courts follow intestate succession laws when determining how assets are distributed when no will is present.
Which Assets Are Distributed Under Intestate Succession Laws?
Only assets that fall under probate will be distributed under intestate succession laws. This can include:
- Real estate property
- Cars, trucks, and other vehicles
- Bank accounts
- Funds in a retirement account without a named beneficiary
There are exceptions for properties and other assets when there is a named beneficiary, a living trust, property owned with another person, or transfer-on-death clause. In such cases, these properties or assets are not typically subject to intestate succession laws and not included in probate.
Who Inherits Assets Through Intestate Succession Laws?
Intestate succession laws establish who gets what when distributing an estate. In the simplest terms, inheritance is distributed in the following ways:
- Spouse and no children: The spouse will inherit all assets.
- Children and no spouse: The children will inherit all assets.
- Spouse with shared children: The spouse will inherit all assets.
- Spouse and children from a different partner: The spouse will receive the first $75,000 of the assets, plus half of the remaining balance. The rest goes to the children.
- Parents and no spouse or children: The parents will inherit all assets.
- Siblings and no parents, spouse, or children: The siblings will inherit all assets.
Protecting Your Assets With a Will
Having a will in place can give peace of mind that your wishes will be followed after your death. It helps eliminate stress for surviving family, and can help avoid conflicts over property and other assets.
It’s important to work with an attorney when writing a will or creating a trust to protect your assets and provide a framework as to how much and who will receive assets at your death.
Contact the Attorneys of Froerer & Miles
If you are ready to write your will or establish a trust for your estate, please call our Ogden office at (801) 621-2690 to schedule a consultation.