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Caring For Generations

While all kids break rules from time to time, spoiled children often don’t believe the rules apply to them at all. Sometimes that’s because they don’t understand the potential consequences, says Sarah Crow in………

As estate planning attorneys here at Geyer Law, we naturally do a lot of talking and writing about the importance of preparing estate planning documents. We understand, though, that there might be people thinking, “What if I don’t do estate planning?”

Well, if you die without a will in Indiana, your assets will go to your closest relatives under our state’s “intestate succession” laws, the legal encyclopedia explains.
Two things to understand though: Only assets that would have passed through a will (if you had had one!) will be affected by the intestate succession laws, and only assets you own alone in your own name. What isn’t included under the laws of intestacy are:

  • life insurance proceeds
  • funds in retirement accounts
  • jointly owned property

Under intestate succession, who gets what depends on whether or not you have living children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. In terms of children, keep these categories in mind:

  • Adopted children will be treated the same as biological children.
  • Foster and stepchildren will not automatically receive a share.
  • Posthumous children (conceived by you but not yet born when you die) will be included.
  • Grandchildren will receive a share only if your son or daughter is not alive to receive that share.Here are some possible scenarios:
  • You die with children but no spouse – children inherit all.
  • You die with spouse but no parents or children – spouse inherits all
  • You die with spouse and children of your own – Spouse inherits half, children half.
  • You die with parents and a spouse – spouse gets ¾, parents ¼.
  • You die with parents but no spouse or descendants – parents inherit all.
  • You die with no parents or descendants, but have siblings – siblings inherit all.
  • You die with siblings and parents but no spouse or children – siblings and parents share equally (but parents must get at least ¼ of intestate property.

If none of these scenarios sounds like what you would want to have happen, well, now you know the answer to “What if I don’t?”