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If you die without a proper estate plan, the distribution of your estate will be determined by government statute, not in accordance with your desires.
Intestacy means dying without an estate plan (i.e. Will, Revocable Living Trust, etc.). Under the law, when a person dies "Intestate," the state dictates who receives their property. Under Missouri Revised Statute ("RSMo.") § 474.010, all Intestate property shall be distributed as follows:
The Decedent's spouse shall receive:
- The entire estate if there are no surviving descendants; or
- The first $25,000 of the estate, plus 1/2 of the balance of the estate, if there are surviving descendants, all of whom are also the descendants of the surviving spouse; or
- 1/2 of the entire estate if there are surviving descendants, but none of them are the descendants of the surviving spouse.
If there is no surviving spouse, then the entire estate shall be distributed as follows:
- To the descendant's children, or their descendants, in equal parts
- If there are no children, then to the Decedent's father, mother, brothers and sisters or their descendants in equal parts
- If there are no children, nor father, mother, brother, or sister, then to the Decedent's grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, and aunts in equal parts
- If there are no father, mother, brother, sister, grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles or aunts then living, then to the great-grandfathers, great-grandmothers, or their descendants in equal parts.
- This type of scheme continues until it reaches the 9th degree of kinship.
If there is no surviving spouse or relatives:
- Then the property shall "escheat" to the State of Missouri, meaning that Missouri takes the property.
As you can see, the distribution found in Missouri's Intestate Statute may not be favorable to you, your spouse, or your children, and they may not be in accordance with your desired outcomes for your estate.
To learn more about how you can prevent Intestate Succession from occurring, please contact Vince Taormina, an estate planning attorney and wills attorney with The Taormina Firm.