Intestacy Laws: What’s Keeping Financial Planners Up at Night

One of the most serious problems financial planners encounter is clients who have no valid will.  If anyone dies without a valid will, then their estate is administered under the intestacy laws of their state.  In other words, their state has written a will for them.

Why are state intestacy laws important to Financial Planners?

A quick examination of the wide variation of intestate laws from one state to another can be quite alarming.  For example, in one state, if you die owning real estate in your name and are survived by a spouse but no children, guess what?  The real estate goes to your parents, not your surviving spouse!  If your parents are dead, then it goes to your brothers and sisters, again not to your spouse.

Here is another example.  In one state, the surviving spouse is only entitled to $15,000 of the personal property; while in another state, the surviving spouse is entitled to half the property if there are living descendants of the deceased, and all of the property if there are no living descendants.

Just these few examples illustrate how dramatically laws can differ from one state to the next and how unlikely it will be that the laws will reflect what an individual would prefer.

Want to know what the laws are in your state?  Curious to scope out the laws that you find the most objectionable?  Then I suggest you check out this, link, which will give you access to each state’s intestate laws.  But be forewarned; if you don’t have a valid will, learning about the laws in your own state might result in a sleepless night.