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Our Estate Planning/ Wills & Trusts Attorney Explains Intestate

Posted on in Taxation Law

You may have heard of the term "intestate" as some point in your adult life, but never quite knew what it meant. Many times, you'll hear someone say "he died intestate", which means the person passed away without a will. And while this may not seem like a big deal, dying intestate mean the family of the deceased is left with a huge problem on their hands. This is why is so very important to consider estate planning/ wills & trusts early on.

Asset Distribution

When someone dies without a will, the distribution of that person's assets is left to the court. A family member (or close friend, for that matter), can apply to become the estate administrator. The administrator works in the same capacity as an executor would: he gathers the assets, pays the bills and distributes the assets to heirs.

Where the Problem Lies

If you think what we just explained sounds like an easy process, it's not as cut and dry as you think. The administrator must also provide the court with a family tree of sorts, which would rank the descendants of the deceased. This is how the court will divide the assets. The deceased's spouse and children would be considered first in line.

The exact distribution of the deceased's assets depends on two things: whether the property is separate property or community property. Community property is the assets acquired during the marriage while separate property belonged only to the deceased. Once the type of property is determined , the court looks to divide the property accordingly.

For more information on how to make sure you don't leave your family in a bind, contact us to set up a consultation.

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