An estate plan is a comprehensive set of legal documents that provide instruction and clarity on the planner’s wishes for their long-term care and estate distribution. It is often considered an important task for elderly Illinois residents to undertake, but in fact all adults should have estate plans to protect themselves and their heirs. When a person dies without having any estate planning documents in place, the distribution of their assets is dictated by the laws of the state.
The laws of intestacy
States throughout the country have laws of intestacy, including Illinois. When an individual dies without a plan for their assets in place, the laws will evaluate which of their relatives should receive their wealth. Often, a spouse will take at least half of the decedent’s estate, but the presence of children or grandchildren can alter how much they receive. If a person dies without a spouse or children, their estate may pass to their parents, siblings, and more distant relations.
When no heirs exist
In the event that a person dies with no identifiable heirs, their estate assets may actually pass to the state. While some individuals may want to allow the state of Illinois to benefit from their hard work and savings, most people sacrifice and save so that their children and loved ones can have more than they had.
The absence of an estate plan can create frustration and problems for heirs when they know that their deceased relatives intended to make plans for the distribution of their wealth but never took the time to write it down. Estate plans do not have to be complicated, and estate planning attorneys can help individuals create individualized plans that meet their needs. This post does not offer any legal advice or guidance on any legal topic.