If you were to pass away without a last will or any other type of estate planning documents such as a trust, the precise circumstances would dictate the way that your property was distributed.
If you owned property in joint tenancy with someone else, the joint tenant would assume ownership of the property after your passing, even if you did not have a will.
The same thing is true for insurance policy proceeds. The beneficiary that you named when you purchased the policy would assume ownership of the proceeds after your passing.
It is also possible to name a beneficiary when you are opening a bank account or a brokerage account. These accounts are called payable on death or transfer on death accounts. Even if you do not have a will, the beneficiary would assume ownership of the remainder that is left in the account after you die.
Property that is in your direct personal possession at the time of your death would become probate property if you did not have a will. The probate court would ultimately allow for asset distributions using the intestate succession laws of the state of Connecticut.
Intestate succession laws are similar in every state, but there are some differences. If you passed away in Connecticut with children still alive but no spouse, your children would inherit all of your probate property. Your spouse would inherit everything if you had a surviving spouse but no children or parents still living.
If you had no children and no surviving spouse, your parents would inherit all of your probate property if they were still living.
Your surviving spouse would inherit the first $100,000 of your intestate property, and half of the rest if you had a surviving spouse and children from that spouse. Your children would inherit the other half of the property.
This is just an overview, but there are rules in place for every scenario with regard to surviving relatives.
Some people pass away with no last will and no surviving relatives. Under these circumstances, the state could ultimately absorb the probate property under escheat laws. In fact, a couple of years ago a multimillionaire passed away in New York without a will or any other estate planning documents.
Schedule a Free Estate Planning Consultation
There is no reason to go through life without a proper estate plan. You should certainly take the right steps to provide for your loved ones in the appropriate manner.
We offer free consultations to people in the greater Hartford area, and we would be glad to assist if you are ready to take action. To request an appointment, send us a message through this link: Hartford CT Estate Planning.