Do you have a loved one in your family that passed away, but they did not have a will? If so, you may have a lot of questions about inheritance laws so that you understand what will happen.
The Debts Must Be Paid
Be aware that all debts from an estate must be settled, and those will take precedence over people receiving their inheritance. This can be upsetting for some people to discover that they are not going to receive the inheritance they thought they would receive because their loved one had a lot of outstanding debts that needed to be settled first.
The Beneficiaries Will Receive Designated Accounts
Even though there is not a will, there are likely accounts that have designated beneficiaries. These beneficiaries will take ownership of the accounts based on who the person listed. A common problem with this is that many people forget who their beneficiaries are and do not keep them current. For example, there may have been a life insurance policy that still has a former spouse as a beneficiary, or someone is listed that has passed away. This can cause a lot of confusion about who will receive those accounts.
The Joint Owned Property Automatically Transfers
Any property that has joint ownership, such as a vehicle or a home, will be automatically transferred to the other person that has joint ownership. There is not anything special that needs to be done for these situations, since the property is already in the other person's name.
The Remaining Assets Are Given To The Appropriate Person
Every state has its own laws regarding how assets are transferred if a will is not in place. However, they typically follow very similar rules. If a person still had a spouse at the time they passed away, the property will be transferred to the living spouse. If a person doesn't have a living spouse or had a divorce, then the assets would transfer to the children.
Things get a bit more complicated when a person dies when they are single and do not have a spouse or children. Assets tend to transfer to any living parents, and if they are not alive then assets go to brothers or sisters. If there are no living brothers or sisters, then assets could be transferred to their living children. From there, it's possible for assets to be transferred to living nieces and nephews further out in the family tree so that the assets stay in the family.
For more information, contact an inheritance lawyer near you.