Naperville Estate Planning Attorney Discusses the Basics of Intestacy Laws in Illinois
Do you have a plan for the allocation of your property and assets in the event of your death? Obviously, such concerns can be difficult to address, as many people, including a large number of my clients, have trouble with the concept of death and estate planning. It is extremely important, however, to formalize arrangements for your estate well in advance, because as uncertain as the future may be, leaving your estate in the hands of the state without a will or other direction, can be even more unpredictable. Personal assets that are not addressed in a will, trust, or other estate planning tool are known as intestate property and will be allocated by the state in accordance with its intestacy laws.
The condition of intestacy is created when a person dies without a will. In the event a will was created, but it did not make provisions for certain assets or contain broader provisions for unaddressed assets, intestacy laws are applied to the specific, unaddressed property. When a person dies intestate, Illinois law requires that all debts and obligations of the deceased must be satisfied before any property may be allocated. Once that is completed, a seemingly endless list of “if-then” possibilities govern how the estate is to be divided.
For example, if a person dies intestate, leaving a spouse and children, then intestacy laws provide that the spouse receives half of the person’s assets, and the children receive the other half. If the deceased has children but no living spouse, the children inherit everything. The same would be true in reverse: with no children, but a surviving spouse, the spouse would inherit the entire estate. When a person dies intestate with no spouse or descendants, the law then looks to parents and siblings of the deceased, and the complexities increase.
Avoid Leaving Intestate Property
It is important to understand—and a qualified estate planning attorney can walk you through the details—that not every asset must be addressed specifically in a will to avoid intestacy. Certain assets already include clauses for the transfer of ownership based on existing contractual agreements. For example, life insurance policies and retirement investments generally require named beneficiaries, and are not considered intestate, even without a will.
Call a DuPage County Wills and Trusts Lawyer
The most efficient way to prevent the state from managing your assets upon your death is to develop a comprehensive estate plan that removes all uncertainty about the disposition of your property. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney in Naperville to ensure your will accurately captures your wishes while retaining full enforceability under the law. Call 630-756-1160 today to schedule an appointment at the Gierach Law Firm and put our skill and knowledge to work for you.