What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
Dying without a will means you are what the courts consider “intestate,” which means laws of your state determine how your property is distributed. In most cases, your assets would go to your spouse,
Most of us plan so that we’ll have assets for later, but what will happen to those assets after you die?
In Pennsylvania, dying without a will can mean your assets will be distributed according to state law, and in a way you may not have wanted. And failing to make provisions for your medical care in case you become incapacitated can cause confusion and division among your loved ones.
That’s where the law firm of Penglase & Benson can help. Our attorneys are adept in dealing with a variety of estate planning issues, including:
We are conveniently located on North Main Street in Doylestown, PA - just a short walk from the Bucks County Courthouse. You can find parking in a nearby garage or on the street. We are easily accessible by train, bus and via Route 611 or Route 313. Contact Penglase & Benson for a consultation today.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to have an estate. Your estate is just the assets you’ll leave behind: the money in the bank, your life insurance policy, whatever real estate you own, and the possessions in your home.
Your will is a legal document that allows you to control who gets those assets after you die. As we said above, when you die without a will, a court will distribute your assets according to state law, and in a way that might be contrary to what you would have wanted.
Like a will, a trust allows you to leave your assets to someone after you die. But while a will transfers assets directly to your heirs, trusts have a trustee who controls those assets.
There are several types of trusts, including life insurance trusts. These trusts give you more control over your insurance policies and the money paid from them, and allows you to reduce estate expenses, which means your loved ones get more of your estate.
Not all estate planning involves the assets you’ll leave behind. As you get older, it’s wise to start thinking about the cost off long-term care. Determining how Medicaid can help pay for your long-term care can be complicated, and you might require the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Without proper assistance, most people will be required to spend down most of their assets before Medicaid will begin paying for their care. With careful planning, a great deal of their estate can be saved and eventually transferred to their loved ones.
A living will is a legal document that directs medical professionals on how to care for you if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness or otherwise able to communicate. It lets you decide now the type of medical care you want later in life.
By not preparing a living will, you may inadvertently force your loved ones to make difficult choices about your end-of-life care.
This is another tool meant to manage your affairs if you become disabled or incapacitated. Pennsylvania law allows you to appoint an agent who has the power to pay your bills, buy and sell property, begin legal terms, file tax returns and make medical decisions – including your admission to a nursing facility – all on your behalf.
As with a will, not having a power of attorney can mean a court deciding your affairs when you are unable. You should consider working with an estate planning attorney to designate an agent to work on your behalf.
If you or a loved one becomes disabled or incapacitated, and you haven’t granted anyone power of attorney, the court will appoint a guardian to manage your affairs. This person will make decisions regarding your finances, your medical care and your housing.
By working now with an estate planning attorney, you can take steps to avoid the need for a guardian. And if a guardianship has already been established, an attorney can help your family through the process to make sure your rights are protected.
Estate planning can involve complex decisions about matters that are quite literally life-and-death. Contact the firm of Penglase & Benson today. We’ll be happy to help you take steps to make sure your loved ones and your interests are protected.