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What happens to your property if you die without a will?

| Jun 12, 2021 | Probate & Estate Planning |

When it comes to estate planning, misinformation abounds. Everyone seems to have heard a story about an estate plan gone wrong, but few people actually know the Rhode Island law.

For example, you may have heard that if you die without a will, the state takes your property. Is it really true that you need to engage in estate planning or lose out on the opportunity to leave an inheritance for the people you love?

Rhode Island has laws for estates without wills

It is actually very common for people to die without an estate plan – even a will. Some people don’t think they need one, while others simply die before they get a chance to commit their intentions to writing.

An estate without a will is known as an intestate estate. Generally, your closest family members will have the right to inherit your property even if you don’t leave your wishes in writing. The closer the familial relationship is (regardless of how close you actually were), the stronger the inheritance rights are.

Rhode Island intestate succession laws specifically benefit spouses and children, although parents and siblings can also inherit assets when someone unmarried and without children dies without a will. In scenarios without close family members, the estate can go to more distant relatives.

Only when no one can locate any living family members do the assets in an estate eventually become the property of the state of Rhode Island. Understanding what happens to your property if you die without a will can be good motivation to create an estate plan so that you can leave behind specific things of value for the people you love.

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