What happens if you die without a Will?

(September, 2008) – Dying without a will is called “intestacy” and any person who does this is “intestate”. Intestacy is rife with problems and should be avoided at all costs.Intestacy Results in Poor Asset Distribution: In intestacy, the estate must distribute the assets according to statute. In other words, if you do not bother to name your heirs in a will, the Illinois legislature will do it for you. Property is first distributed to a surviving spouse and children (guardians ad litem may be appointed for minor children at the expense of the estate). If there is no spouse or child, the statute lists a long line of relatives who inherit without regard to financial need, personal relationships with the decedent, or non-kin friends and life-partners. If no heirs are found, the property ultimately may be given to the State of Illinois.


By writing a will, you can avoid this result. Intestacy is More Expensive: Intestate estates face more expenses in probate than estates where a will is left. Executor bonds and increased notice requirements may result in thousands of dollars of avoidable cost. While writing a will does not avoid probate, it can drastically reduce costs by eliminating the bond and certain notice requirements. (To avoid probate entirely, consider using a trust.)Intestacy Results in Poor Executor Selection: In Intestacy, the Executor is named according to a statutory list. The person (or group of persons) determined by statute are not necessarily the most qualified for the job. By writing a will, you can name your Executor.For more information about the results of intestacy, or with help writing a will or probate, call Millie Palmer at Navigant.