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What happens if you die without an estate plan?

Estate Planning

Death is an inevitable part of life, and we all hope to be remembered for the life we have led, the people we have touched, and the legacy we have left behind. But what if we suddenly pass away without an estate plan? It can create a lot of confusion, expenses, and even family conflicts regarding the distribution of our assets.

1. Intestate Succession Laws

When someone dies without a will or an estate plan, their assets will be distributed according to the intestate succession laws of their state. These laws determine who will inherit the deceased person's assets based on their relationship with the deceased. The spouse and children are typically the primary heirs, followed by parents, siblings, and other relatives. However, the distribution of assets can vary depending on specific state laws, and it may not reflect your wishes.

2. Probate Court

If there is no estate plan, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the deceased's estate and distribute assets according to the applicable law. It's an added expense to your estate and may cause delays in settling your affairs. Additionally, the court-supervised probate process is open to the public, and anyone can access it, including creditors and relatives you would rather keep away from your estate.

3. Family Conflict

When the assets are not divided as you wish, disputes can arise among your family members. It's not uncommon for family members to fight over a deceased relative's assets, mainly when no clear instructions are left. It can create resentment and suspicion and tear families apart. Creating an estate plan can minimize the likelihood of conflicts and ensure your assets are distributed to the intended beneficiaries.

4. Loss of Control

By dying without an estate plan, you lose control over the distribution of your assets. You will have no say over who will inherit your assets, when they get them, and how much they will receive. Your assets may end up in the hands of someone you didn't want, or the people you wanted to protect may get nothing. The absence of an estate plan is risky, as you may be unable to provide for your spouse, children, and other dependents if you pass away.

Houston Estate Planning Lawyer

If you're a resident of Houston, Texas, and want to ensure that your estate is managed and distributed according to your wishes, Keith Morris & Stacy Kelly, Attorneys at Law can help. Don't leave the future of your estate to chance; contact us today at (713) 636-5339 to create a plan that reflects your wishes and provides peace of mind.