What Happens to My Assets if I Die Without Estate Planning Documents?

Sarah J. Randall

Author: Sarah J. Randall

POST DATE: 7.9.21
Ccha  Estate Planning

When one passes away without a will, their assets pass through what is known as intestate succession. That is to say, when the individual does not specify where they want their assets to go, the state will decide. The Indiana Code sets out the distribution of assets in detail in IC 29-1-2-1. Provided below you’ll find the basics of how intestate succession works, the disadvantages of intestate succession, and the importance of estate planning.

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The first person typically considered after one dies is their spouse. If the decedent and their spouse have no children and the decedent has no parent that outlived them, then the surviving spouse will receive all of the estate. If the decedent and the spouse do not have children but the decedent has a surviving parent, the spouse will inherit three-fourths of the estate, and the parent will receive the remainder. Lastly, if the decedent and the spouse have at least one child, the spouse will receive one-half of the estate, and the child or children will receive the other half.

If an individual is not married and has children, the children will receive the entire share of the estate. If an individual is not married and does not have children, the surviving parents and siblings will share in the estate. If an individual is not married, has no children, and is not survived by a parent, their siblings will receive the entire estate. If the decedent has no spouse, parents, children, or siblings, assets pass to other relatives.

Intestacy is often not preferred, as it has many disadvantages. For one, it can get complicated very quickly if there are second marriages, stepchildren, or relatives that are hard to locate. Although rare, it is possible that the government may take the entire estate if no relatives can be found. Additionally, intended beneficiaries who are not related to the decedent will not inherit anything. Conversely, blood relatives that had no connection to the decedent may inherit though that was not the intention of the decedent. Lastly, a court, not the decedent, will choose the person who will administer the estate.

Proper estate planning can avoid intestate succession. We have a great team here at CCHA that can help draft a will or a trust to provide for your loved ones after your death. By connecting with one of our experienced attorneys, you will have peace of mind and confidence that your final wishes will be carried out. Give us a call today at 317-773-2190.