Understanding Intestate Succession

As many Americans begin to approach retirement age and beyond, estate planning starts to become more evidently important. If you are like most people, you have worked hard for the assets and property that you have accumulated and you would like to know that it will be properly allocated and cared for upon your death. It may be easy to simply assume that there must be laws regarding this sort of thing, and that your estate will work itself out. The reality is, however, that laws do exist regarding the distribution of your estate, but they are very complex and their application can have some unexpected results.

Intestate Property

Intestacy is the situation created when a deceased person’s property is not addressed by a will or other instrument of asset succession. A single asset or the entire estate is said to be “intestate” if valid provisions have not been for allocation upon the owner’s death. Certain assets are not be considered intestate, as the terms of their ownership account for the possible death of one owner. Real estate, for example, owned in joint tenancy, or a life insurance policy are not included in intestate succession, since the real estate ownership would transfer to the other owners and the life insurance policy would issue payment to the named beneficiaries.

Allocation Process

Prior to any intestate property being distributed, all debts and obligations must first be satisfied. Then, under the Illinois laws regarding intestate succession, the deceased person’s estate can be divided among surviving family members. This, unfortunately, is where things can get a bit complicated.

One might assume that the estate of a married man, who dies intestate, would simply be placed under the control of his spouse. It is a reasonable assumption, but only conditionally true. Such would be the case for a man who leaves only a spouse and no children or grandchildren. The estate of man with a wife and children would be divided in half: one half allocated to the wife, and the other half to be divided between the children. Without a spouse or descendants, his estate would be inherited by his parents, if they are living. If not, next in line would be his siblings. As you can see, the intestate succession laws can be very confusing, and can have unpredictable effects on the disposition of intestate property.

If you have questions about intestate succession for your own estate planning purposes, or as an heir with a potential dispute, contact an experienced probate attorney in Orland Park. Our law firm has helped many clients navigate the complex process of intestate succession, allowing them to resolve the inherent issues when a loved one dies without a will. Call 708-518-8200 and schedule your free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer who can answer your questions and assist you in understanding your options.