Litigation involving intestacy issues involve those who should be appointed the administrator as well as the legitimate heirs of the decedent.

There are many problems that can arise as a result of not having a will. The following are examples of problems of not having a will:

  1. A family member will need to apply for administration, which increases the cost to the estate because the administrator will have to pay the premium on a surety bond. The premium is based on the size of the estate.
  2. The beneficiaries will be determined by statute as opposed to going to the people who you would want. The following are examples of what would happen by statute if you did not have a will:

    1. You are survived by your spouse and parent(s), but no children: Your spouse gets the first 25 percent (but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000), plus 75 percent of the balance of your estate. Your parents get the remaining estate assets.
    2. You are survived by your spouse and children, all of whom are also children of your spouse (and spouse has no other children by any other relationship): Your spouse receives 100 percent of your estate.
    3. You are survived by your spouse and children, some of whom are not children of your spouse: Your spouse gets the first 25 percent (but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000), plus 50 percent of the balance of your estate. Your children get the remaining estate assets.
    4. You are survived by your spouse and step-children (children of spouse who are not your children): Your spouse gets the first 25% (but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000), plus 50 percent of the balance of your estate. Your more remote heirs (siblings, nieces, nephews, etc.) get the remaining estate assets. Your step-children receive nothing.
    5. You are survived by children of your deceased spouse (step-children), but no descendants, parents, descendants of parents or grandparents: Your step children get 100 percent of your estate.

Regardless of your age or your wealth, it is very important to prepare a will. Please refer to the section entitled "Estate Planning" regarding the benefits of having a will.