What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Illinois?

  • Estate Planning
  • Wills
Last Will and Testament | What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Illinois? | Chicago Lawyer Mario Godoy | Estate and Probate Legal Group

No one likes to think about dying. Any many people assume that they don’t need a will because their spouse or children will automatically inherit their money and property if they die. And in some cases, that is true. But often people who die without a will unintentionally leave behind stress and additional expenses and problems that could have been avoided.

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that you create with instructions on how your estate will be handled in case you die or become incapacitated. A will is your opportunity to make sure your wishes are followed and relieve the burden and stress from your family. Many family disagreements happen when a loved one dies without a will and the family has different viewpoints on who should be in charge and on important decisions.

The instructions in your will cover many important decisions about managing your estate and assets, including:

  • Who will pay your bills
  • Who will be the guardian and decision maker for your minor children and dependents
  • Who will make your funeral arrangements and what will they be
  • How will your assets be distributed – who will inherit any money, property, jewelry, artwork or family antiques
  • How will your pets be cared for
  • Will your favorite charities or causes receive a donation
  • Where is your important paperwork such as life insurance policies, business documents, deeds, titles, stocks and bonds or business documents

An up-to-date will is the best way to tell your family and loved ones how you want your estate handled, and to legally make sure your wishes are carried out. But what happens if someone in Illinois dies without a will?

Illinois Intestacy Laws

When someone dies without a will it is called “intestate.” Illinois has “Intestacy Laws” to determine who will receive a deceased person’s assets in the absence of a valid will. Each state can establish its own intestacy laws. If you die without a will in Illinois, your estate and all decisions about your estate will go to your closest relatives. Your assets that fall under intestacy laws include property, bank accounts and retirement savings that you own outright in only your name, and are not co-owned with anyone else.

Note: Any assets that are co-owned such jointly owned property or that have a named beneficiary such as a life insurance policy are considered non-probate property, and do not fall under Illinois intestacy laws.

Illinois has very detailed provisions for how your assets will be distributed if you die without a will they can be found in the Illinois Probate Act. There are very explicit Illinois intestate succession laws that detail complicated descendant scenarios of what will happen if you die without a will in The Illinois Probate Act.

Why You Should Make or Update A Will

Even if you don’t want to think about it, everyone knows that that at some point they will die – they just don’t know when. Preparing or updating your will is the best way to protect your family, see that your wishes are followed and make sure your family doesn’t have additional burdens.

Making a will doesn’t have to be difficult. An experienced estate and probate lawyer can guide you through the process so nothing is overlooked, and you can be sure that your will complies with Illinois probate laws.

To talk to a probate, trust and estates attorney. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at (630) 382-8063.