How Is Property Distributed If There Is No Last Will?

Aug 12, 2014

Everyone should take estate planning seriously, because it addresses something that is definitely going to happen to all of us. In spite of the inevitability factor, a significant percentage of people go through life without a plan.

What would happen to your assets if you passed away without a last will? Let’s look at the multifaceted answer to this question.

The Condition of Intestacy

If you don’t have a last will and you don’t have a trust, the condition of intestacy will result. Under these circumstances, the probate court would get involved.

Before we look at the intestate succession laws of the state of Iowa, we should point out the fact that assets could be transferred outside of the probate process, even if you die without a last will or trust.

Joint tenancy would facilitate the transfer of property outside of probate. A joint tenant is a co-owner of property. Let’s say that you own your own home. You could make your daughter the joint tenant. She would then own half of the home.

Through right of survivorship, your daughter would inherit the entirety of the home after you pass away, even if you didn’t have a last will. Though this can sound like a great solution, there are drawbacks that go along with joint tenancy.

Payable on death accounts can also facilitate transfers outside of probate, even if you didn’t have a will. These accounts are offered at banks and brokerages. When you open the account, you name a beneficiary. After you die, the beneficiary would assume ownership of the assets, and probate would not be a factor.

Insurance policy proceeds would also go directly to the beneficiary outside of probate, regardless of whether or not you had a last will.

If you died without a will, property that you had in your direct and sole personal possession would become probate property. It would be distributed under intestate succession laws.

In Iowa, if you had a spouse but no descendents, your spouse would inherit everything. If you had a spouse and descendents from you and that spouse, your spouse would inherit everything.

If you had children but no spouse, your children would inherit all of your personal property. Your parents would inherit everything if they were still alive but you had no spouse or descendents. If you had no spouse, children, or parents living, your siblings would inherit all of your personal property.

Avoid Intestacy

Letting the chips fall as they may under intestate succession laws is not a very good strategy. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to put a proper estate plan in place.

If you are ready to take action for the benefit of your loved ones, contact us through this link to request a free consultation: Quad Cities Estate Planning.



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