Dying Without a Will

Many clients ask, "What happens if I die without a Will? Simply put, if you die without a will, the government, not you, decides what happens to your assets.

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 Receives:

  1. The entire estate if there are no surviving descendants; or
  2. 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
  3. 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 is distributed as follows:

  1. To the descendant's children, or their descendants, in equal parts.
  2. If there are no children, then to the Decedent's father, mother, brothers and sisters or their descendants in equal parts.
  3. If there are no children, nor father, mother, brother, or sister, then to the Decedent's grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, and aunts in equal parts.
  4. 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.
  5. This type of scheme continues until it reaches the 9th degree of kinship.

If there is no surviving spouse or relatives: The entire estate is given to the State of Missouri.

As you can see, the distribution found in Missouri's descent and distribution scheme may not be favorable to you, your spouse, or your children. To learn more about how you can prevent Missouri from dictating what happens to your things, contact Will attorney Vince Taormina.

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Vince Taormina is an experienced St. Louis Will lawyer who works with ordinary families to educate them on the benefits of having a Will.

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