When someone passes away without a will, their estate becomes subject to
a process known as “intestate secession,” which is not ideal
or advised for anyone, even those with few assets to their name. Intestate
secession is a series of laws that govern how certain particular assets
will be passed on to your loved ones, depending on several circumstances.
Let’s take a brief look at how these laws work.
What Isn’t Passed
The first and perhaps the most important part of intestate secession to
understand is that assets that may not be passed on by a last will are
not allowed to be passed via intestate laws. This includes things such
as retirement benefits or accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, and more), life insurance
proceeds, payable-on-death bank accounts, property you’ve placed
in a living trust, or property you own jointly with another individual.
These assets will transfer to either their joint-owner or those who you
list as your beneficiary.
Who Survives You
Intestate secession leaves your assets and property to your spouse, children,
or parents, depending on the circumstances of your family. The easiest
three situations to figure out are if you only have one of the three,
they will inherit everything (i.e. if you have no spouse or children,
but your parents are still alive, they will receive your entire estate).
From there, who gets what becomes a bit more complex, with your estate
being divided based on its total value and certain amounts being guaranteed
to certain parties. There is one other exception as well: if you have
no descendants, no spouse, and no parents, then your living siblings will
For more specific details on who receives what from the intestate secession
process, it’s highly advised you speak with an estate planning attorney
and discuss your case with them. They can also help you ensure the process
is followed correctly.
When your descendants are in line to receive a portion of your estate,
it may be confusing which individuals are considered to be your “children.”
Biological and legally adopted children are automatically entitled to
an intestate share. However, foster children and stepchildren don’t
automatically receive a share of any estate.
Other individuals who may be subject to an intestate share as children
- Children who were conceived by you but not born before your death
- Children who were born outside of marriage but can be legally proven to
be your biological descendants
- Children who were born to your wife during a marriage (they are automatically
assumed to be your child)
- Grandchildren (direct descendants of your own children) can receive a share
if their parent (your child) passes away before you do
If you die without making proper preparations with a last will or estate
plan, your descendants could find themselves facing a rather serious tax
burden. Estate taxes, death taxes, and more can all be fully levied on
estates that do not protect their assets, resulting in a potentially serious
financial burden on your loved ones after you pass away.
It’s best to avoid this process entirely by preparing for your future
with the help of a Denver estate planning attorney.
The Moodie Law Firm is dedicated to your success and provides honest and practical counsel
for all your estate planning needs. We can help you create a thorough
and comprehensive estate plan including documents such as power of attorney,
advanced medical directives, last wills and testaments, and more. We have
the best interests of you and your family at heart, and we can help you
protect that which is precious to you through careful preparation for
the future ahead of you.
Are you prepared for your family’s future? Call The Moodie Law Firm
today at 303-578-3940 to obtain a
case evaluation and start writing your last will and testament now!