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What happens to my assets if I don't leave a will?

Thinking about your own death can be a scary thing for most people. Because of its finality, a lot of people try to avoid thinking about it until the very last minute. This can sometimes mean though that people will put off handling many of the end-of-life things that are most important to complete before it's too late. One of these things is making a will.

As we have said many times before on this blog, wills are incredibly important legal documents that help determine who will receive what portion of your assets and who will be executor of your will. Wills can also help outline your end-of-life wishes, which makes things easier on your loved ones after you have passed away.

But what happens to your assets if you don't leave a will? Here in Pennsylvania, as well as many other states, if there is no will, then the estate goes into what is called intestate succession. Intestate succession is a process by which assets that would have otherwise been affected by a will are passed on to your closest relatives.

So how do you know who is getting what?

This is a big, important question that all of our readers should consider, especially if you are anxious about making a will. With intestate succession, some of your assets may go to people you had not intended on giving anything to after you've passed away. This may lead to extensive litigation that you will not be unable to help resolve.

If you are especially concerned about where your assets will go after you pass away, then intestate succession is something you will want to avoid. As we have already said, this can be done with the help of a well-drafted will, which will make sure that your end-of-life wishes are upheld.

Although wills can be drafted without the help of legal counsel, it's often considered a better idea to have a lawyer than to not have one at all. Typically, they will review a will and point out any potential snags that could cause problems later on. With their help, you can rest assured that your estate plan is being executed to your exact specifications after your death.

Source: legis.state.pa.us, "Chapter 21, Intestate Succession," Accessed Nov. 21, 2014

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Larmore Scarlett LLP

Larmore Scarlett, LLP
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