Many Oklahoma residents know how important it is to have their estate planning documents in place. But, for those who haven't taken the time to create a will yet, it may be a good idea to understand what happens if you die without a valid will.
If a person dies without a will, they are considered to have died "intestate". This means that a person's property will be distributed based on the intestacy laws of the state. This includes all property, including real estate, bank accounts, financial accounts, vehicles and more. Property that is owned in another state will fall under the intestacy laws of that state. If a person is married with children, their entire estate will go to their surviving spouse. If the children are from a different spouse, they will receive a portion of the estate. If a person is single when they die, their estate will go to their parents if they are alive, or to their siblings. A partner who is in a relationship with someone, but not married will not receive a portion of the estate. Intestacy laws only recognize relatives, so unmarried couples will not inherit any property.
Usually people care who will receive their assets upon their death. Without a will in place, their assets can go to people they did not anticipate or want. An estate planning can help their client develop a plan that includes where their assets will go when they die. They can also help a person designate a power of attorney and create a living will. All of these important documents can ensure a person's wishes are followed when they die and it offers peace of mind to their family.
Dying without a will can have unexpected consequences. Although it may seem morbid, creating an estate plan ensures one's assets are handled as the decedent intended.
Source: FindLaw, "What happens if you die without a will?", accessed Sept. 26, 2017