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What happens to my estate if I don't have a will?

Nobody can really plan for death. It's an unfortunate fact that we know all too well; and try as we must, sometimes there just isn't enough time to plan for everything before our eventual passing. But as any of our readers can imagine, a sudden parting can wreak havoc on a person's estate plan and leave a lot of unanswered questions for surviving family members in the process.

A question similar to the title of this blog post is one that comes up frequently for people across the nation. Many people do not know what happens to their assets and property after their death, while others may be surprised to find out that their previous assumptions were wrong. This week we wanted to tackle this question and hopefully give our readers here in Oklahoma a heads up on a situation their loved ones could find themselves in down the road.

It's important to remember that while having a last will and testament is always a good idea, not having one does not mean the end of the world. In fact, an estate can still be distributed without the guidance of a will. Unfortunately, the distribution of your assets might not be to your living wishes and could mean that relatives gain inheritance that you may not have intended for them.

This happens as a result of "intestate succession," which basically means that if you don't have a will, the state will make one for you. Every state, including Oklahoma, has a set of laws that govern who receives portions of your estate and how much. It's worth noting, however, that succession can get incredibly complicated when living descendents are thrown into the mix. Every person from your parents to your aunts and uncles are taken into consideration and amounts and distribution are all contingent on who is still alive and the size of your estate.

While much of this can be sorted out by an attorney after your death, as we point out before, the distribution of your estate using intestate succession may not go how you wanted. That's why it's important to speak about such matters with a skilled lawyer early on. That way, you can ensure your end-of-life wishes are adhered to and your estate is divided exactly how you'd like.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Understanding Intestacy: If You Die Without an Estate Plan"

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