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While the importance of creating a comprehensive estate plan is indisputable, it is also important to understand what may happen if this does not occur. Many people die each year without a will, and the legal process afterward can be quite complicated.

Dying without a will is formally known as intestacy. According to Findlaw, if you die intestate, then the 1990 Uniform Probate Code will largely dictate what happens to the estate.

What does the 1990 Uniform Probate Code say?

This is the starting point for breaking up an estate for an individual who dies intestate. Essentially, the probate code attempts to divide up an estate in the most “logical” fashion. This means that a surviving spouse will inherit the majority of an estate if there is no will.

Following the spouse, children will be the next in line to inherit. If there is no spouse and there are no children, then it is likely the estate of the deceased will go to the parents. If none of this is possible, then further-flung family members may inherit, like grandparents or siblings. If there is absolutely nobody qualified to take the estate, then the estate will go to the state.

Why is this negative?

Dying without a will can cause a lot of legal friction. It is highly likely that somebody will end up contesting inheritance if there is no will in place. Is also important to note that the 1990 Uniform Probate Code does not take into account anything like financial need. Particularly if you have unusual desires for your estate (maybe you would like to leave everything to a nephew and not your son), the 1990 Uniform Probate Code will not take this into account.