Each state in the country sets its own intestate succession laws. These laws determine who is going to get the estate of a person if that person passes away without a will in place. They are very strict and can’t be bypassed unless you have your estate plan set up before you pass away.
Illinois’ intestate succession laws give preference to your spouse and children. If you have a spouse but no children, the spouse receives everything. The situation changes a bit if you have children and a spouse. In this case, the spouse would receive half of your estate. The remaining half is split between your children. If you have children but not a spouse, however, the entire estate is split between your children.
When children are involved, the estate is divided “per stirpes.” This means that a child’s share will be passed on to their children if your child passes away before you or before your estate is distributed. This means that your grandchildren would receive an inheritance from you if their parent passed away.
If you don’t have either a spouse or children, the law stipulates that your estate will go to your parents and siblings. It provides a list that the court can go down until a sufficient heir is found.
Not having an estate plan in place mean that it can be months before your heirs have access to your personal items and assets — and that may make it difficult for them to pay bills, cover your burial expenses and process their grief over your loss. Getting your estate plan in place is the only way that you avoid your family having to go through this. Your attorney can help you to learn the options you have so that you can get everything set up so that it reflects your wishes for what will happen to your assets.