What Happens to My Property if I Die Without a Will?

Although death can be an uncomfortable subject to consider, planning for the distribution of your property upon your death can save your family and loved ones time, money, and confusion in the future.  Unfortunately, estate planning often gets put on the back burner, for many until it is too late.  So what happens to your property if you die without a will or trust?

Individuals who die without a will are considered to have died "intestate."  When an individual dies intestate in Indiana or Ohio, it is up to the probate court to distribute the decedent's property according to the state's intestacy laws.  The probate court will assign the role of executor to an individual of its choosing to carry out the property distribution.  Under Indiana and Ohio's intestacy laws, the property of a deceased individual passes first to the individual's spouse or children.  If a spouse or children do not survive, the court will look to the decedent's parents and then to the decedent's siblings.

When the probate court becomes involved in the distribution of a decedent’s property, the distribution process is often delayed and can become very expensive.  Additionally, the court’s choice of executor and property distribution decisions may become points of contention for family members and loved ones, further prolonging the process.  Creating a will is the best way to appoint a trusted executor and to make sure that your property is distributed according to your wishes.