Of all the things that complicate the estate planning and probate process, dying without a will is on the top of the list. If you die without a will, your estate property might go to someone who you don’t want it to go to!
Here’s what really happens:
If you’re married
This largely depends on how the assets are owned. In most cases, either the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse or is split between the surviving spouse, parents, and siblings. The first case applies if the estate comprises community/marital property, and the latter applies if it’s separate property. At the same time, if you’re married and have children with the current spouse, the estate automatically goes to the surviving spouse. If you have children from another spouse, the current spouse receives around one-half of the estate, whereas the rest goes to the surviving children from the previous spouse.
If you’re an unmarried couple
Dying without a will could bring about some incredibly unpleasant consequences, especially for unmarried couples. This is because the intestacy laws only recognize legal and registered relatives. Unmarried partners don’t inherit a dime if one partner dies without having written a will. In such a case, the deceased’s property is usually divided among the relatives, according to how they were related to the deceased.
If you’re in a domestic partnership
This depends on your state laws as well. Not all states recognize the estate rights involved in a domestic partnership. Luckily, the state of Nevada extends the rights to a domestic partner. In this case, your domestic spouse inherits the same share of the estate as your surviving spouse would. This also depends on how you owned the estate property. Your estate planning attorney will be able to guide you better.
If the deceased is single and didn’t have any children, the entire estate goes to the parents (if they’re both living). If they’re not alive, the estate is divided among their siblings (and half-siblings). If one of them is alive, both the surviving parent and siblings get some share of the estate. If there are no surviving parents or siblings, the estate goes to your nieces and nephews, followed by the relatives on your mother’s side and father’s side.
If you want your estate to be distributed according to your wishes, it always helps to write out a will and plan your estate in advance. Kalicki Collier is a full-service law firm from Reno, Nevada, that will be glad to help! Get in touch with our probate and estate planning lawyer reno.