What happens to your assets and property if you die without a will? Every state's laws have a different answer to that question. In Illinois, the law that covers "intestate succession" is the Probate Act of 1975.
If you die without a will in Illinois, then the law covers any assets that you own which do not come under one of the following:
- Life insurance policy proceeds;
- Retirement accounts;
- Payable-on-Death (POD) bank accounts;
- Securities or stocks which are in a transfer-on-death (TOD) account;
- Property held on a TOD deed;
- Property owned with another individual(s) in a tenancy by the entirety or a joint tenancy; and
- Property or assets placed in a living trust.
Without a will, any other assets would go to your closest relatives. Who those relatives are depends on who you have as relatives. For example, if you are not married but have children when you die, then your children will receive all of your assets. In addition to your biological children, Illinois law defines a legal child who is entitled to your estate as:
- Any adopted child;
- Any foster or stepchild;
- Any child who was conceived but not born before your death;
- Any child born outside of marriage who you accepted paternity for;
- Any child you gave up for adoption where the child's adoption decree specifically states his or her right to inherit from your estate; and
- Any grandchild who's parent (your child) died before you.
If you are married, but have no children or other descendants, then your spouse will receive all of your assets.
The more family you have, the more complicated it can get. If you do have a spouse and children or other descendants, then your spouse will get half of your assets and your children the other half.
If you pass away and you only have your parents as relatives, then they will receive your assets. If you only have siblings when you die, then your siblings will receive your property. If both your parents are alive and you have siblings, then each will receive an equal portion of your assets. However, if one of your parents has passed, then the surviving parent would receive a double portion of your assets.
No matter what the situation, it is clearly better to have a will in place when you die. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to discuss drafting up a will and to answer any other estate planning questions you may have.