What happens if I don’t have a will or living trust?
The legal term for dying without a will is dying intestate. If you do not specify through a valid will or living trust who will receive your property, the state law controls and generally distributes your property to your spouse and/or your closest heirs. This may or may not be what you intended. Furthermore, if you fail to nominate a guardian for your minor children, the court may appoint someone you wouldn’t trust to act as legal guardian of your minor children. Finally, by failing to appoint someone to carry out your wishes, the court can appoint anyone (as outlined in the law) to be the administrator of your property and the administrator may have to pay certain fees or post a bond at the expense of your estate before he or she can begin to distribute your assets.
A simple will is appropriate for people who do not own property and do not have a lot of savings. If you rent and if you have less than $150,000 in cash or other assets, such as stocks or mutual funds, a will may work just fine for your situation.