When someone passes away without a will or estate plan, the state has rules for how property should be distributed among living family members. The problem with this is that there is no guarantee that your property will go to the people you wanted it to go to if you did not make a legally binding plan. If you wanted your surviving spouse to have the house but they are not on the deed, that could be possible or there could be a fight in probate court about who gets what. This is why you should talk to a Fayetteville, Arkansas wills lawyer and get your estate plan established as soon as possible.
What Property Won’t Go Through Probate?
When you die without a will or estate plan in place, you are said to have passed away “intestate.” That means that much of your property needs to go through the probate process and be distributed to family members. Assets that do not have to go through the process include:
- Anything held in a living trust
- Accounts with payable-on-death provisions
- Jointly owned property
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
So if you jointly owned the house, it would go right to your spouse. If they are not on the deed, it has to go through probate.
How Can My Surviving Spouse Get the House?
If you do not have a will, the house can still end up going to your surviving spouse. This largely depends on how many other potential beneficiaries you have. If your spouse is alive and you have no other children or descendants, they get all of your intestate property. That includes the house. Your marriage just needs to have lasted three years or longer.
When Does My Surviving Spouse Have to Split Property With Other Relatives?
When you have children or other living descendants, that complicates matters. Your spouse would only be entitled to a third of your real estate and personal property. This could affect whether or not they get to keep the house you shared, which is why having an established estate plan is a good idea.
Do I Need an Estate Lawyer?
It is a good idea to get a lawyer when you are working on a will or estate plan. This is not a small project you are taking on. An experienced lawyer can:
- Take care of all the paperwork
- Ensure that your will and estate plan are legally binding
- Help you make a “transfer-on-death” deed
- Put assets in you and your spouse’s name
Basically, if you want to make sure that your spouse and other beneficiaries are well cared for when you are gone, visiting an estate lawyer is a crucial step to take.
Contact Our Law Firm Today
If you want to make sure that your beneficiaries receive the right property after you pass away, schedule an appointment at the Knapp Law Firm. We can help you develop a complete estate plan that ensures that your wishes are respected.