What Happens When a Loved One Dies Without a Will?

Sarah J. Randall

Author: Sarah J. Randall

POST DATE: 4.27.18
Ccha  Trust Probate

While having an estate plan is desirable, sometimes, our loved ones die without a will. When this happens, their assets will be distributed via a process called intestate succession. To better understand the process, you should know who will be in charge of administrating the estate, what will and will not pass through intestate succession, and who will receive what portion of the estate.

Who Administers the Estate?

If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to ensure that the probate process goes smoothly. The order of assigned administrators can be found in Title 29, Article 1, Chapter 10 of the Indiana Code. Generally, if there is no will, the court will appoint the surviving spouse, an heir, or persons nominated by the surviving spouse or heir. The appointed administrator must not be younger than 18 years old, incapacitated, a convicted felon, or found unsuitable by the court for any other reason.

What Will and Will Not Pass Through Intestate Succession?

Only assets that would have passed through an individual’s will are able to be passed through intestate succession. This includes assets belonging to the decedent that do not have a beneficiary designation or a joint owner. Among items not included are assets that are co-owned, assets in a living trust, or proceeds from life insurance with a designated beneficiary.

Who Gets What?

When a loved one dies intestate, their assets will be distributed based on a uniform system found in Title 29, Article 2, Chapter 2 of the Indiana Code, the most common of which are outlined below:

  • If the decedent has a surviving spouse and children, the estate will be divided, ½ to the spouse and ½ to be divided among the children.
  • If the decedent has a surviving spouse, no children, and a surviving parent(s), the estate will be divided, ¾ to the surviving spouse and ¼ to the surviving parent(s).
  • If the decedent has a surviving spouse, but no children or parents, the spouse will receive all of the net estate.

There are less common scenarios that may warrant a different calculation. To find those, reference the Probate Code (Title 29 of the Indiana Code).

Contact an experienced estate attorney at Church Church Hittle + Antrim, who can skillfully navigate the process with you and your family. For more information about Sarah and her practice, visit her profile.