What Happens if Your Family Members Pass Away without an Estate Plan?

While your primary concern regarding estate planning may be your own estate plan (and likely is), it is also important to know and understand your role in others’ estate plans – such as family members. But what happens if those related to you do not have an estate plan at all? How would you know if you have any responsibilities should that person pass away? Details surrounding this topic are examined further below.

How Do You Know Who You are Responsible For?

While you’re likely aware if your spouse has an estate plan, you may not be aware if other loved ones in your life – such as siblings or elderly parents – do. So how do you know who and what you are responsible for?

Without having an estate plan, carrying out any responsibilities can be difficult. Say you have a family member who assigns you responsibilities should they pass away. If you do not have the proper legal documentation to carry out those particular responsibilities, things can get very complicated.

When an individual dies intestate (not having a will upon his or her death), the court system will determine who inherits which assets through probate.

Having Estate Planning Conversations with Your Loved Ones: How You Should and Why it is Important

The notion of sitting down to have estate planning discussions with your loved ones may feel daunting. However, it does not have to be. Having a conversation with your loved ones about your estate plan or theirs is critical to gain an understanding of who has what role should either person pass away, and what assets will be distributed to whom.

Sitting down together and having an honest discussion can help get everyone on the same page. If your loved one does not yet have an estate plan, it is important to let them know about the significance of having one. It is never a bad time to create an estate plan, even if you feel you do not possess many assets at the moment. Your estate plan can always be (and in fact, should) be updated as you age.

Passing Away without an Estate Plan: What are the Consequences?

The consequences of not having an estate plan upon your death are numerous. The most common scenarios you will find here are those who pass away without having a will, or dying “intestate” as mentioned above.

When this occurs, you have no control over who your assets get distributed to upon your death. The court will make that decision, and it may lead to unfortunate conflict between your loved ones.

By you having an estate plan, as well as your loved ones, you can ensure that your and their legacy is protected. In many cases, the estate plans of you and your loved ones can be intertwined – particularly in the case of spouses.

For any questions regarding the creation of an estate plan, or any other assistance with your estate planning needs, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work with you.

For more information regarding various estate planning and elder law topics, view our resources page, where you will be able to find previous blog articles, newsletters and our informative webinar series.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

About the Author

Alyssa Marie Monteleon, Esq.

Alyssa Marie Monteleon is an elder law and estate planning attorney at the Monteleon Law Group, PLLC with offices in New York and Virginia. For more information, please visit www.monteleonlaw.com or call (914) 840-2529.

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