While the importance of estate planning is generally well-known, it is also important to understand what will happen if you happen to pass away without a will dictating what is to be done with your assets. Persons who died without a will are considered to have died ‘intestate,’ which means that the state is going to be in charge of allocating the assets and not I will. According to Findlaw, dying intestate means that your assets are going to be subject to the 1990 Uniform Probate Code.
Different states have different laws; however, it is most common for states to build their particular intestate laws based around the Uniform Probate Code. Essentially, the Uniform Probate Code is going to divide your assets up along the lines of what is generally considered the most advantageous or desirable secession process. This means that if there is a surviving spouse, usually that spouse is either going to end up with the entire estate or, barring that, a very substantial part of the estate.
If there is no surviving spouse, then if there are any descendants of the deceased, those descendants will usually receive even portions of the assets at hand. If there are no descendants, then surviving parents will be the next in line to receive assets. If there are no surviving parents, then the next in line would be the siblings of the deceased, assuming there are any.
While the Uniform Probate Code does commonly follow along the most usual lines of inheritance, it is important to engage in estate planning so that your desires are followed specifically, and the possibility of litigation after your death goes way down.