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What Happens if You Die without a Will? Escheat Happens!

What Happens if You Die without a Will? Escheat Happens!

You have probably heard it a dozen times: everyone needs a will. But you wonder why. You don’t have a lot of assets, and what you do have will go to your heirs anyway, right? Well, maybe. If you die and leave behind family, they will inherit your estate. Family includes your spouse and any descendants. If you are not married and have no living descendants, your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins will inherit. However, in a country where families are increasingly having one or no children, the number of people who will leave behind no legal heirs will only increase in the future.

If you die without a will and with no legal heirs, what happens to your estate? It “escheats” to the state. If you die without a will and without a legal heir, or if an heir cannot be located, all of your property, real and personal, will become the property of the state, a process known as escheat. And really, has there ever been a more perfectly descriptive legal term?

How can you prevent the state from taking your possessions? Have a will. Even a simple will can prevent escheat by naming your desired recipients for your property. A will should also name backup beneficiaries in case your primary ones are difficult to locate or have died before you. For help with this process and in preventing the state from “escheating” you out of your property, call the professionals at McNeelyLaw LLP.

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