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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Feb 18, 2016

While several people haven’t put much thought into estate planning, if you have assets, you have an estate. In the event of your death, those assets will be distributed somehow. When you die without a will or any other estate planning tool in place, it’s called “intestate.” Every state has laws in place that address what happens in cases like these. Here’s more information about how intestate succession works in Arizona.

What Happens You Die Without a Will?

Where your property goes without a will in place depends on your situation. For example if you die:

  • With children but no spouse, your children inherit your property.
  • With a spouse but no children, your spouse inherits your property.
  • With a spouse and children with that spouse, your spouse inherits your property.
  • With a spouse and children from another person, your spouse inherits ½ of your separate property, and your children inherit ½ of your separate property and ½ of your community property.
  • With no spouse or children, your parents or siblings inherit your property.
  • With a partner to whom you’re not married, your partner will not receive any of your property, and it’s distributed as if you’re single.

When Estate Planning is Most Important

Anyone with assets and no estate plan faces the possibility of having those assets distributed somewhere they wouldn’t prefer. Broaching the subject is a good idea for just about everyone, but there are key events in your life when it becomes more important, such as:

  • When you get married or divorced
  • When you buy or sell a home
  • When you have children
  • When you have a long-term partner who you don’t plan on marrying

Another issue with dying without a will is that your estate will pass through probate, which involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers. All of this is paid for by your estate, which means that less of it goes to your relatives. Having estate planning tools in place, such as a will or trust, not only ensures that your assets go to the people you specify, but also that the people you specify receive as much of your estate as possible. Especially as your family and assets grow, it’s vitally important to speak to an experienced professional who is familiar with the estate planning tools available to you.