What Happens If I Pass Away Without a Will?

Understanding Some Basic Legal Terms and Options For Creating a Will

Our Nevada Will Attorneys take a look at some basic terms and options available to you when considering creating a Will in Nevada. Our Las Vegas Lawyers also discuss what happens when you pass away and do not have a will in place.

It’s not fun to think about dying. As unpleasant as it might be, your loved ones will appreciate it if you devise a clear plan to distribute your assets after your passing. A will is also the only document you can use to designate who should be the legal guardian of any minor children you have if you pass away.

Passing away without a will is also known as dying “intestate.” Passing away intestate has different effects whether or not you are married, and if you have children, living parents, and siblings.

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Intestate Succession

If you pass away without a will, your assets will go through the process of intestate succession. States vary on their laws regarding intestate succession. In Nevada, any assets you have will first go to your spouse when you pass away. Your assets will go to your children if you have no spouse, but things become more complicated if you have a living spouse and children from a separate relationship. Your children may be entitled to a share of your community property, which may very well still be in use by a living spouse. Your spouse may need to sell your marital home or buy out your children with cash to be able to remain in your home if you pass away without a will. A will would ensure that your children and new spouse don’t bitterly feud over your assets after you pass.

Community Property

Nevada is a community property state, so each spouse has an equal share of all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. If you have no children or only have children with your current spouse, all community property will pass directly to your spouse should you pass away without a will. Children from a separate relationship may be entitled to half of that spouse’s community property share.

No Medical Power of Attorney

With proper estate planning, you can designate someone to be in charge of critical medical decisions should you be unable to make them yourself, and specify your wishes on issues like organ donation, burial, funeral services, etc. Without a medical power of attorney, whoever is designated as your medical agent may not know how you would prefer for these issues to be decided. Per A.R.S. 36-3221, a medical power of attorney must be notarized or witnessed in writing.

Your Children

A will is the only legal document you can use in Nevada to designate who should care for your minor children in the event of your passing. If you die without a will, it will be up to the state to decide who should have legal guardianship of your children. The court may struggle to decide upon a legal guardian if none of your family members volunteer. Therefore, if you have minor children, it is best to have a valid will in place with designations for your care should you pass away.

No Designated Financial Powers

One benefit of having a will is that you can list specific assets that others may not be aware that you own. Assets should be described clearly, and it should be clear what your intention is for the asset. You can also use your will to specify who should take care of tasks like filing your final tax returns, sell assets, and distribute property.

Will Requirements

In Nevada, a will must be signed by the testator, or the person whose assets are being distributed after their death. It must also be witnessed by two individuals. These signatures can be notarized, which makes the will “self proving.” This means the heirs don’t need to do anything in court to prove the will’s authenticity unless it is challenged. A testator may also use a handwritten will as a holographic will. All material provisions of the will must be in the testator’s writing, and it must be signed by the testator.

Insurance Policies

Certain financial assets, like retirement accounts and life insurance policies, have designated beneficiaries. Funds from these assets will go directly to the beneficiary, whether you pass away with or without a will.

Don’t Wait to Get a Will Made, Contact our Las Vegas Will Lawyers.

If you pass away without a will, your assets may end up exactly where you want them, or you just might not care all that much what happens to your money after you die. Most people would rather make sure their assets go to close friends rather than distant relatives, or would like to make significant contributions to charities they care about. The only way to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes is to have a valid will in place.

Therefore, when your will is executed by an expert Nevada estate planning attorney, this decreases the chance that the legitimacy of your will and your intentions will be disputed in court after your death. Your loved ones should only have to focus on grieving your passing, instead of financial stress and litigation over your estate. Call the professionals at the Law Offices of Erik Severino when you’re ready to get your affairs in order. It always best to be prepared as you never know when the unexpected may happen. Plus, you may even be surprised by how affordable it is to hire legal help with your final will and testament.

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