What happens if I do not have a Will? Part 1: Distributions.

Creating a Last Will And Testament is your chance to exercise your right to dictate how your Estate will be administered.  Generally speaking, the Last Will And Testament serves two main purposes:  first, you direct how your belongings and real estate will be distributed (and to whom your various assets will be distributed); and second, you select the person to serve as your Executor, meaning that you select the person in charge of your Estate.

Regardless of whether you have a valid Last Will And Testament, all property that you own in joint tenancy (or real estate that you own as tenants-by-the-entirety), will automatically transfer to the other person(s) who co-own the property with you.  However, all property that you own outright – whether or not you were married at the time that you acquired that property – and all property that you own as tenants-in-common, must be distributed as part of your Estate.

The Probate Act of 1975's Influence on Your Estate.

If you are a resident of the State of Illinois and you die without having a valid Last Will And Testament, the default provisions in the Probate Act of 1975 will dictate how your Estate is administered.  For example, if you are married without any children, then your surviving spouse receives 100% of your Estate.  However, if you are married and you do have children, then your surviving spouse receives only ½ and your descendants receive the other ½, per stirpes.  Moreover, if you are not married and you do not have any children, then your parents and siblings each receive equal shares.  As the situation becomes more complicated, so do the applicable provisions of the Rules of Descent and Distribution.

Any deviations that you would like to make from the rules of descent and distribution, including any gifts to step-children, step-parents, or friends, must be created as part of your estate plan.   

If you are considering whether you should have a Last Will And Testament, likely the answer is yes. The attorneys of Tapella & Eberspacher LLC will gladly meet with you to discuss your options.  Please contact us today!