What happens to your property if you die without a will?

If you don’t have a will, the government has a will for you. What happens to your property is determined by your state’s laws of “intestacy.” In our case, let’s talk about Illinois, where the rules of intestacy are found in the Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/2 (Article II – Descent and Distribution).

These are the default rules that the government thinks that the average, ordinary person would want to have happen to their property upon their death. And having a will is a way of contracting out of default rules.

An Example of Intestacy In Action

Here’s a concrete example, if you are married with children, and you die, and are survived by your spouse and children, then Illinois’ laws of intestacy will provide that your surviving spouse get a 50% share of your estate; and your children get the other 50% of your estate; because that is what the Illinois lawmakers imagine that a typical person would want.

Not having a will, and relying on intestacy rules to provide the outcome you want can be very risky!

Let’s say that you are indeed married with children. And let’s further suppose that your home is in your name alone, because when you purchased it, your credit score was better than the credit score of your spouse. If you die, your home becomes a probate asset. Further, if you die without a will, that home’s disposition is governed by the laws of intestacy — which means that it does not go directly to your spouse. Instead, your spouse gets 50% of your home, but your minor children get the other 50% of it. That can cause all sorts of problems with respect to ownership, guardianship, etc.

Get A Will To Avoid Intestacy

So that’s the point — If you don’t have a Will, the government steps in, with their own rules of intestacy — which might not reflect what you, or indeed anyone, would want to have happen to their property or their loved ones.

So in a big picture sense, your Will gives control to you – instead of to the State government.

Five Things to Know Before Using LegalZoom

If you are thinking of using a tool like LegalZoom to draft your will, there are (at least) 5 things you should know about it. Click HERE to download our free PDF booklet about it, and let us know what you think at (847) 848-6165 or by email monahanfirm@gmail.com.