When someone dies without an estate plan, the courts will use a process known as intestate succession to distribute that person’s property. Intestate succession is a series of legal guidelines for how courts allocate assets to a decedent’s surviving relatives.

Intestate succession is typically not the ideal process for distributing an estate, as the process could result in outcomes that would not have been the decedent’s final wishes. To ensure you have control over what happens to your hard-earned assets after your death, making an estate plan with the help of a skilled wills attorney is essential. If your loved one dies with a final will, however, it is best to consult with a seasoned legal professional about the laws of intestacy in Moorestown.

Who Inherits Under Intestate Succession?

Intestacy succession laws may lead to different outcomes for Moorestown families depending on the decedent’s surviving relationships. If the decedent has a surviving spouse, but no children, the spouse will inherit everything. If there is no surviving spouse, the state will distribute the decedent’s property amongst any surviving children.

If a person passes away with a living spouse and children, the spouse will still typically inherit most assets. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the surviving children could inherit some of the estate if the surviving spouse has children from another relationship. In these cases, the surviving spouse receives 25 percent of the estate, up to $200,000, and the decedent’s surviving children share what is left.

If there is no surviving spouse or children, living parents will inherit everything. If someone dies without a surviving spouse, parents, or children, any surviving siblings may inherit the estate. Given how many variables are at play when determining intestate succession, it is vital for families to seek guidance from an experienced legal professional.

Intestate Succession Can Lead to Unexpected Outcomes

While intestate succession laws in Moorestown can work out for some people, they leave an estate in the hands of a judge who may make decisions against a family’s wishes. This is especially true for complex estates with significant assets that are challenging to divide fairly. On top of leaving an estate in the hands of a state court, intestate succession may create disputes between potential heirs and lead to lengthy delays.

The most significant issue with someone dying intestate is they do not have the opportunity to choose who receives the assets they worked hard to earn. With a comprehensive estate plan, someone can name beneficiaries within or outside of their immediate family. Someone who writes a legally enforceable will can leave assets to friends or even charitable organizations. A valid estate plan can protect a person’s final wishes and name a trusted executor to ensure those wishes are followed to the letter.

Contact a Moorestown Attorney About Intestacy Laws

Intestacy laws are complex, especially at first glance. Understanding how these rules determine the division of property after a loved one passes away is essential to protecting your rights and your loved one’s estate.

If you have questions about the laws of intestacy in Moorestown, now is the time to speak with an attorney. Experienced legal counsel could help you understand your rights and determine your best path forward. Reach out today to learn more about the processes for distributing an estate after someone’s death.