What Happens if You Pass Without a Will?

What Happens if You Pass Without a Will?

If you die without a will in New Hampshire, the state considers you to have died “intestate” and state law determines how your assets will be distributed. Even if there is strong evidence that you had the intent to leave certain assets to certain people, if you do not leave a will with specific instructions, state law controls who your heirs are.

There are assets that pass to heirs and beneficiaries that are not included in a will even if you leave one. The remaining assets pass according to the state law of intestate succession.

Assets That Pass Outside of a Will

Some examples of assets that pass to beneficiaries whether you leave a will or do not leave a will include:

  • Life insurance proceeds go directly to the named beneficiary or beneficiaries.
  • Payable on death bank accounts.
  • Property that you have placed in a living trust
  • Property owned in joint tenancy with someone else.
  • Funds in retirement accounts that are payable to beneficiaries.

New Hampshire Intestate Succession Laws

New Hampshire intestate succession laws are somewhat complicated. Who gets your assets depends on whether you have a living spouse, children, and descendants with that spouse, or children and descendants from other relationships.

Some examples of state law are:

  • If you have no surviving spouse but you do have children, all your assets will be divided among your children. This includes any children who you legally adopted.
  • If you leave a spouse but no descendants and no surviving parents, your spouse inherits everything.
  • If you leave a spouse with whom you have descendants, and the spouse has descendants from another relationship, the spouse and the descendants of you and your spouse share in a portion of your estate in percentages established by the state. The descendants of your spouse from another relationship do not inherit from your estate.
  • If you leave a spouse and you have descendants from another relationship other than with your surviving spouse, your spouse and your descendants share in the inheritance.
  • If you leave a spouse, no descendants, but you have surviving parents, your spouse and parents share in your estate.
  • You leave your parents, no spouse, and no descendants, your estate goes to your parents.
  • You leave siblings but no descendants, no spouse, and no parents, your siblings inherit all of your assets.
  • If you die with no heirs, your assets will belong to the state.

There are more issues to consider, such as how your half-siblings inherit, how children conceived before you die but born afterward inherit, and how those relatives inherit whose immigration status is in question.

Contact Us for Assistance with your Estate Planning

Intestate succession does not have to happen to your heirs. Take control and contact us at Beasley & Ferber. We are here to help you prepare your will and trusts so that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and not according to the state of New Hampshire. Contact us to schedule an estate planning appointment.