Washington DC Intestacy Laws

Washington DC Estate Planning Lawyer Michelle Lanchester Explains What Happens Without an Estate Plan

picture of elderly coupleA will or estate plan is one of the most important legal documents you will make in your life. It is vital that you establish a legally valid method of distributing your assets and property to your spouse, children and other loved ones. Our Washington DC estate planning attorney strongly recommends establishing a will as soon as possible. It may be unpleasant to think about, but consider what happens when someone dies without a bill– if you die without a will, your personal wishes about the distribution of your property will mean nothing.

What is Estate Planning and How Does it Affect Intestacy Laws in Washington DC?

Intestacy laws determine how to distribute property if a person dies without a living will or testament. If you die and do not have a last will and testament, the courts will distribute your property in accordance with the law of intestacy.

If someone is counting on you for support and you have not established a financial power of attorney, there is no guarantee that your loved ones will receive the financial support they need after you pass on.

If you die without a will, your estate will be processed in accordance with District of Columbia intestacy regulations. The laws in Washington DC stipulate:

  • If you have children but no spouse, your children receive everything;
  • If you have a spouse but no children, your spouse receives everything;
  • If you have a spouse and children, your spouse receives 2/3 of your estate and your children receive 1/3; if your children are not the spouse’s children, the spouse receives ½ and the children (of the same generation) receive ½
  • If you have a spouse and no children but your parents are still alive, your spouse will receive 3/4 and your parents will receive 1/4.

If you have no surviving spouse, children or parents, your estate could go to your siblings, nieces, nephews, grandparents or grandchildren. If no living family can be found, then your estate will be surrendered to the government.

Make Sure Your Wishes Are Known

You should decide how to distribute your estate, not the court system. Michelle Lanchester can help you establish a plan for the distribution of your estate after your life ends. She can answer any questions you have about distributing your estate and work with you to ensure that your will communicates your wishes and leaves a legacy of love. Contact our Washington DC estate planning attorney today by calling (202) 220-3000 in Washington DC and (443) 759-3245.

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