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Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC Blog

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Without a Will, You Have Little Say in Who Inherits Your Estate

What happens if I die without a will?

Many Americans are loath to consider the topic of estate planning.  Preparing for your eventual death is something few people want to face.  In fact, an estimated 64 percent of Americans do not have a will, as reported by Forbes Magazine.  However, it is critical that individuals of all ages understand that without a will, they will have little to no say in who inherits their estate.  Absent a will, the state is forced to make crucial determinations as to who receives your hard earned money and property.  For the parents of minor children, the state may even be forced to select a guardian for your child if you do not have a plan in place.  A will is an essential document that can convey your last wishes, but far too many people are dying without one.

Intestate Succession in Alabama

If you die without a will in Alabama, the laws of intestate succession will apply.  Your assets will be distributed among your closest relatives.  Distribution of your property will depend on your marital status and whether you have living children, parents, or other close relatives upon your death.

Under Alabama’s intestate succession laws, if you die with a spouse and children, your spouse will inherit the first $50,000 of your intestate property and one-half of your intestate property, with your children inheriting the remainder.  If you die with a spouse and no children, parents, or siblings, your spouse will inherit everything.  Those with a spouse and parents living will have $100,000 go towards the spouse, plus one-half of the intestate property, with the remainder going to the living parents. 

Conveying Your Last Wishes in a Will

Intestate succession laws leave you with no say in where your assets go.  Your assets could be distributed to family members that you would not have included in your last wishes.  With a will, you can convey your last wishes in a manner so that the court will honor them.  Your property goes towards whoever you select.  Further, a will is a relatively simple document that an estate planning attorney can help you to prepare in little time.


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