What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
July 13th, 2018
Although many individuals and families engage in careful estate planning, there also are a good number of people who choose, either purposely or inadvertently, to make no financial or legal arrangements for their property following their deaths. While this is not a preferable situation, it is more common than you might think, especially when an individual does not want to contemplate his or her own death, finds estate planning unnecessary, or simply does not take the time to consider all available options. As a result, the Michigan legislature, as is the case in most states, has passed laws that govern how an individual’s assets are distributed following death in the event that he or she dies intestate, or passes away without a will. These intestacy laws also determine the procedures for administering an estate in this situation, including the fact that Michigan probate courts become responsible for administering your estate.
Michigan law provides that if you are married and die intestate, but have no living parents, children, or grandchildren, your entire estate passes to your spouse. Moreover, even if you have children or grandchildren, your spouse at the time of your death is still entitled to receive the first $150,000 of your assets, as well as one-half of the rest of your estate, with the other half being equally divided among your children (or grandchildren, in some cases, where a child is deceased). If you have children who are not the children of your surviving spouse, but are from a prior relationship, your spouse receives the first $100,00 of estate assets, plus one-half of your estate, with the remaining half being divided equally between your children.
On the other hand, if you have a surviving spouse and a living parent, but no children, your spouse would receive the first $150,000 of your assets, plus three-quarters of the remainder of your estate. If you are not married and have no children at the time of your death, then your estate would either all pass to your living parent or parents, or if you do not have a living parent, to your siblings in equal shares.
Whether you have a beloved pet or another issue that needs to be part of your estate plan, you need an attorney who can provide you the help necessary to create an estate plan that is right for you and your family. Taking this step will alleviate problems with your assets in the future, which can be costly, time-consuming, and complex. At Legacy Law Center, our Ann Arbor elder law attorneys can help you through any situations that may arise as you work through the estate planning process.