Dying without a Will

If you die without a will, you are “intestate.” You have left no plans as to what to do with your remaining property interests. The consequence of intestacy is that the state’s default rules, rather than your will, direct the disposition of your estate. These default rules are the state’s intestacy statutes. The intestacy statutes reflect the biases and assumptions that our state legislature has about how the average intestate person would have wanted his or her estate distributed. The intestacy statutes therefore favor giving your property to more closely related persons than to more distantly related or unrelated persons. However, the intestacy statutes also favor your spouse over close relatives. Yet, the intestacy statutes will also give part of your estate to any of your children who are not also children of your spouse because the legislature assumes that your spouse will be less loyal in supporting your children if they are not also your spouse’s children.

Several competing assumptions therefore guide the reasoning behind the intestacy statutes. The advantage of having a will is that you may override these assumptions and their default rules. This may be especially important if the legislature’s assumptions do not match your situation. If you want to leave property for your stepchildren, you may need a will. If you are married and own a business, you may need a will. If you want to leave more to a child with special needs or if you have adult children, you may need a will. To not have a will in these situations is to let the legislature decide what is best for you. The legislature’s assumptions may be correct in many situations, but they do not account for everyone.

Contact Me

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. My phone number, mailing and email address are as provided:

Attorney Andrew P. Mongin

P.O. Box 11712

Green Bay, WI 54307-1712

(920) 288-2080


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