Throughout life, you may be thoroughly responsible with your finances. From investing money to applying for home loans with favorable interest rates, you carefully research options and save money to help benefit your family’s future. However, many people delay or overlook creating a will. Dying without a will creates unnecessary complications for loved ones. A will gives you control over where your assets go, and without a will, you simply relinquish this control to the state where you live. Your beneficiaries may also lose out on important tax benefits.
Dying Without a Will
If you die without a will, it means you have died “intestate.” The exact intestacy laws of your state will ultimately determine how the contents of your estate are divided. Real estate owned in a different state will be handled by the intestacy laws of that particular state. These laws differ, depending on whether you are single, married, and/or have children when you die.
In Illinois, this specifically means:
Survived by a Spouse, No Children/Descendants
Your spouse will receive your entire estate.
Survived by a Spouse and Descendants
Your spouse will automatically receive half of your estate, and the remaining half will be split among your children or other descendants, per stirpes.
- “Per stirpes” means that your beneficiaries inherit a share of your estate equal to the individual they are representing. For example, if you have two children and a spouse, your spouse will receive half of your estate and your children will each receive a fourth of your estate. However, if one child dies before you, their portion of your estate will be divided among their children (your grandchildren) equally.
Survived by Descendants, No Spouse
Your descendants will split your estate equally, also per stirpes.
No Surviving Spouse or Descendants
Your parents and siblings will divide your estate equally. If one parent dies before you, your surviving parent will receive double the amount. If a sibling dies before you, their descendants will split your deceased sibling’s share, per stirpes.
If you do not have any surviving parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings (nieces, nephews, etc.), half of your estate will be divided among your paternal family and half of your estate will be divided among your maternal family.
If you have no known family members, the State of Illinois will receive your estate.
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