What happens when people die without estate planning documents?

Dying without a will is almost never in people’s plans. But with so many people in Delaware procrastinating on starting the estate planning process, this certainly does happen from time to time. Dying with a will that is deemed legally invalid can have the same consequences as dying without a will at all. But what happens in these cases, exactly?

There are some laws in place to define what happens to assets and liabilities. In the case of an unpaid mortgage, for example, creditors can seek repayment from the estate. If the estate cannot cover the remaining balance on the property, the lender can arrange for the sale of the property to cover their losses.

The beneficiaries of the estate when no will exists are defined by Delaware’s state probate laws. This would leave assets to the next of kin, whether that is a spouse, child or other relative. With estates valued over $250,000, the legal partner inherits personal property and belongings, the first $250,000 of the estate and half of the remaining balance. Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren split the other half.

Understandably, most people would prefer to dictate who gets what property after they pass. Unfortunately, even some of those who do undergo estate planning miss a step and end up with an invalid will. In order for a will to be valid, it must be drafted with intent by someone with the capacity to write it. It must also have been drafted without fraud, duress or mistake. Preparing a will with the help of a Delaware lawyer can help ensure that the planning is valid in the eyes of the law. 



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