It’s highly recommended to have a will where a person lays down all their final wishes about their assets and what they want to happen to them when they pass away. Having a will makes the probate process easier and faster — not to mention that it will also ensure that a person has control over their estate when they die.
But despite it being highly beneficial to have a will, it’s not mandatory. Even without a will, a person’s assets will be divided to their heirs, although they will no longer have control over it. Without any documents at all, it’s still possible for a person to have an estate plan.
This is in the form of other contracts and agreements that have been entered into throughout a person’s lifetime, such as a prenuptial agreement, a business bankruptcy plan, etc. There are also State laws that have been created to govern the estate of people who do not create a will.
These intestacy statutes and contracts will govern and take over what happens to the assets after a person dies intestate, meaning someone who passes away without a will.
Will your estate still undergo probate even without a will?
A will controls the probate process. So without a will, the common inquiry is if there will still be probate. It all depends on the assets and the terms of ownership.
For example, a house that’s under the name of the deceased only will still need to go through probate. But if it’s jointly owned, the house just goes to the joint owner. If there are assets worth more than $75,000 that have a pay on death beneficiary or joint owner, these will immediately be transferred to the named beneficiaries without the need for probate. Without pay on death beneficiaries or a joint owner, probate will be necessary to divide these assets.
There is also a threshold when it comes to the amount of assets that go through probate. The division of low-valued estates may not need to go to court to be divided.
Should you make a will?
Nevertheless, it’s still a very good idea to have a will. This will ensure that a person has control over their estate when they pass away. They can line up who will be in charge of the estate and its division, as well as stipulate who they want their assets to go to.
Without a will, the intestacy statutes of the State will take over and divide the assets according to law. But with a will and other estate planning documents, there is peace of mind that the assets will be distributed and managed according to the wishes of the deceased.