What Happens if You Pass Away Without a Will in Washington?

If someone passes away without a Will, their estate will pass on to their heirs through a process known as intestate succession. The intestate succession laws can vary somewhat from state to state, so it is important to make sure you are looking specifically at how this will work in Washington. This post will explain what will happen with your estate if you pass away without a Will or other estate plan in this state.

Impacted Assets

The first thing to note is that not all assets will be distributed according to intestate succession laws. These laws really only apply to assets that you own outright, not necessarily those that are jointly owned by another party, or have a set beneficiary assigned to them. For example, if you own a home with your spouse and both your names are on the deed, it won’t be impacted. If you own that same home on your own, however, the intestate succession laws apply. Other common assets that often are not impacted include retirement accounts, life insurance policies, payable-on-death bank accounts, and any investments placed in a living trust.

How Assets are Distributed

The assets that are distributed based on intestate succession laws will be assigned to loved ones based on their relation to you. Washington laws go through many different scenarios that will cover just about any situation that may apply. The following are just a few of the possible distributions of your property and personal items your heirs may face if you die without a Will:

  • Children + No Spouse – Your assets will be divided between the children.
  • Spouse + No Children + No Parents + No Siblings – Your spouse will inherit all your assets.
  • Parents + No Children + No Spouse – Your Parents will inherit everything.
  • Siblings + No Children, Spouse, or Parents – Everything will be split between your siblings.
  • A Spouse and Children – Your spouse gets half, and your children split the other half of your assets.

Probate Court

In order for your assets to pass to your loved ones, if you have died witout a will, they will need to go through the probate court. Probate court is where any outstanding debts are settled, real property is transferred, and the remaining assets are distributed. If assets need to be split between multiple people, and they can’t come to an agreement about who gets what specifically, probate court will also help to either assign assets to individuals or facilitate the liquidation of assets so that the money from the sale of the assets can be fairly distributed.

The Importance of a Will

When most people read through the list of who will receive their assets if they die without a Will, they notice at least a few situations that they don’t like. Even if the way assets would be split if a person was to die without a Will is acceptable, most people have certain assets they want to make sure pass to certain individuals. The best way to do this is to have at least a basic Will in place to ensure your wishes are honored. Please contact us to get your Will started right away.

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McMahon Law Group

Legal issues of any type can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, and certainly something you don’t want to face alone. Attorney Jacque McMahon and the McMahon Law Group will work closely with you to ensure you not only get the best legal representation possible, but that you are well-informed throughout the process. If you are facing legal issues, please contact us to discuss your situation and get the help you need.

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