If you die and don’t have an estate plan or will, your assets will have to go into probate. Probate is a somewhat long process during which a judge determines how your assets are going to be handled and divided.
When you die without a valid will, your assets will generally pass on to your next of kin. If you are married and have no children, then it is your spouse who will typically inherit your assets. However, intestate succession laws will apply, and your spouse may not get everything.
Dying without a will with a spouse and two parents
If you die without a will and have two parents and a spouse, your estate will be divided among them. The surviving spouse gets all of your community property and your separate personal property. You also get a half of the separate real estate. The rest of the balance goes to the parents.
Dying without a will with no spouse
If you have no spouse when you die but have parents, then each will receive half of your estate. If you pass away with no spouse or parents, then your estate may pass on to your siblings at the time of your death.
In the case that you have no immediate family, the property will continue to be passed down the line of your next of kin. For example, a niece or nephew may collect from your estate if you left no will and had no parents or siblings left alive.
What happens if you have no family?
If you truly have no beneficiaries, the estate can go to the state. By doing this, your estate escheats to the state specifically for educational purposes after all debts have been paid.
A will can help you assign assets to loved ones
If you have people you care about, whether they’re family or friends, you can leave them assets by designing an estate plan. You might use a trust to hold assets until you pass away, or you could identify assets in your will to pass on later.