Proactive steps are paramount when it comes to establishing an estate plan. Putting it off is natural. No one wants to think about, let alone plan for a time when they are no longer alive. However, the lack of planning can create chaos should you die without formal paperwork that documents your wishes.
As with countless states throughout the nation, Illinois intestate succession laws account for state residents who pass away without a valid will. Essentially, the state renders all decisions when it comes to everything from assets to burial.
Probate court is a necessary step
Lacking a will, the probate court takes over to select an estate executor, who is likely to be a close relative. From there, a line of succession is established to distribute assets based. A hierarchy starting with the surviving spouse is established, provided that the marriage was certified and sanctioned in the state. If there are no offspring, the spouse receives all of the estate. Children, even from a previous marriage, will receive their shares as required by Illinois law.
Additional intestate-related scenarios include:
- Unmarried and childless decedents with parents will result in the parents receiving 100 percent of the estate
- Spouses and children from a previous marriage will see the spouse inheriting 50 percent and the children dividing up the other half
- The deceased with no spouse and children and parents have passed away will see the siblings inheriting the estate
- Dying without a will and lacking any close relatives will require finding the next living relative
Even with laws in place, the complexity of dying intestate can create havoc within a family. The closest of loved ones can find themselves at odds over who gets what. The strongest of bonds can break over money and possessions. The benefits of estate planning start with establishing one sooner rather than later.