Intestacy – Dying Without a Will

A person who dies without a Will, dies “intestate”. Intestacy is rife with problems and should be avoided, if possible. In intestate estate administration, the estate assets must be distributed according to the Illinois probate statute. In other words, if you do not take the time to name your beneficiaries in a properly executed Will, the Illinois legislature has a plan for you.

In Illinois, if a person dies without a Will, property is first distributed to a surviving spouse and children (guardians must be appointed for minor children at the expense of the estate). If there is no spouse, and no descendants, the statute lists relatives in a required order who will inherit, without regard to financial need, age, incapacity, ability to manage assets, 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. Additionally, intestate administration is more expensive than testate administration. For example, executor bonds and additional notice requirements 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 Living Trust.

Intestacy may result in the appointment of someone who you would not want as the Administrator of your estate. In intestacy, the Administrator is determined according to the statutory priority. In many cases, several individuals are in equal standing under the statute, which often leads to costly and time-consuming litigation over who will be appointed. The person appointed may not necessarily be the most qualified for the job. By writing a Will, you can name an Executor of your choosing to administer your probate estate.

Should you have any questions about Intestate or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.


Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.



Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC

3701 Algonquin Rd. Suite 300
Rolling Meadows, Illinois 60008

Phone: (847) 253-8800
Fax: 847-253-8822

View Map | Driving Directions