What Happens When You Die Without a Will?

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In this video, Buffalo Estate Planning Lawyer Thomas F. Hewner explains what happens when you die without a will.  If you have questions about your will or estate plan, contact one of our experienced attorneys for guidance. We welcome the opportunity to assist you.

  • If a deceased person with no valid will owned assets in their name, those assets are distributed under the laws of intestacy in which the estate’s called an administration. The person in charge, an administrator, has the same powers as an executor. The rules, at least up through distribution, are the same. The administrator collects the assets and pays the bills, and then looks to the law for distribution.
  • If a young person who has only parents dies, their assets go to the parents. If the person has a spouse but no children, it goes to the spouse. If the person has a spouse and children, everything is divided between spouse and children. After that, it goes to other relatives – all the way to first cousins. If you have an extended family, but no children, nieces or nephews, your estate can be given to more distant relatives, including people you have never met.
  • Even worse, a significant amount of your estate may be used up in the process of figuring out who these people are and having a court determine that this remaining family is entitled to your money.

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