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What happens if Connecticut residents die without a will?

Most responsible adults understand the value of estate planning. They know their loved ones will need protection and guidance if anything were to happen to them. They can still very easily find ways to delay the process.

Most people don’t want to think about dying or becoming incapacitated, and they may tell themselves that they have plenty of time to make big choices about their legacy when life is more stable. The sad truth is that many people delay estate planning for so long that they don’t have documents in place when something happens to them. Those who die without a last will or other testamentary documents in Connecticut may leave some of the people they care about the most without resources or protection.

What happens during intestate succession?

The legal term for probate proceedings that occur after someone dies without a will is intestate succession. The probate courts expect the personal representative of the estate to carefully follow Connecticut state law.

The current rules for intestate succession prioritize close family members. Married individuals who died without a will have most of their property pass to their spouse. If they have children that they do not share with their spouse, that may diminish how much the spouse inherits. The assets of someone without a spouse often pass to their children. If someone without a spouse or children dies without a will, their closest family members will inherit from their estate. Parents and siblings, as well as more distant family members, have inheritance rights under Connecticut law.

Those who have become estranged from their immediate families and those with friends or unmarried romantic partners often find that intestate succession laws do not achieve their legacy goals. A thorough estate plan gives someone control over who inherits their property. They can choose people who have no biological relationship with them or even charitable causes as their primary beneficiaries.

Even those who want to see most of their resources go to their spouse or children may benefit from creating a will because they can designate which assets go to which people. Understanding what happens to personal property if someone dies without a will may help people see the value of creating testamentary documents and seeking legal guidance accordingly.