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The Shocking Reality of What Happens to Personal Belongings After Death Without a Will

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your belongings if you passed away without a will? Your jewelry, collectibles, artwork, or antiques?

The sad reality is that if you do pass away without a will, your personal belongings will become part of your estate and be subject to the laws of intestacy. This means your items will be distributed according to state law, which can lead to confusion and conflict among family members.

Even if you don’t think your belongings are valuable, knowing how they will be handled after you’re gone is still important. This article will explore what happens to personal belongings after death without a will and how you can get help.

But First, Why Having a Will is SO Important

Death is inevitable, yet many people fail to plan for it in any meaningful way. Having a last will and testament can provide peace of mind, but things can get complicated quickly if you don’t have one in place at the time of your death.

Having a will is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Not only does it provide you with the comfort of knowing your wishes will be carried out after you pass away, it also ensures that your loved ones receive the things you leave behind in the way you intended.

Without a will, your estate could be divided up in a manner you disagree with—or worse, your family could be left wondering what you would have wanted. Having a will can ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, and your family won’t have to worry about that responsibility. Additionally, having a will means that your family members and other beneficiaries receive the right amount of money, property, and any other wishes you have.

Here’s What Happens to Your Things If You Die Without a Will

Without a will, the state will decide how the property is distributed. In most cases, this means that the estate is divided amongst the closest family members in probate court.

Probate is the court-supervised process of collecting, managing, and distributing your assets according to state law. It can be incredibly time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing for surviving loved ones, and if there are no living relatives, this could mean that all of their property would go to the state.

If you are dealing with an estate with no will present, it’s best to consult a probate attorney before making any decisions about distributing or selling property owned by the deceased.

If you are dealing with an estate with no will present, it’s best to consult a probate attorney before making any decisions about distributing or selling property owned by the deceased. An experienced lawyer can provide invaluable advice about navigating these complex legal matters and help ensure that all parties involved are treated fairly.

Who Is Entitled to Receive Your Personal Belongings Without a Will?

Once a person has passed away without leaving a will, determining who is entitled to receive their personal belongings can be complicated.

According to North Carolina intestate succession laws, certain parties have priority for receiving assets from an estate when someone dies without a will, including:

  • The surviving children and spouse. In North Carolina, a surviving spouse and children will have first priority for receiving personal effects from an estate when no will is present.
  • The surviving parents and siblings. If there are no children or spouse, the remaining assets may be distributed to the surviving parents, siblings, or other family members.
  • Creditors. Creditors may have a right to claim some of the estate’s assets before beneficiaries can receive theirs. Creditors will be given notice of the death and must file a claim against the estate within a set period to receive payment for their debt. Once all claims have been settled, and applicable taxes have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed.

To ensure that personal belongings are distributed correctly after someone passes away without leaving a will, you must understand your state’s laws regarding inheritance and any debts owed by the deceased person before distributing anything from their estate.

Make a Plan for Your Belongings — Call Cary Estate Planning Now

The passing of a loved one is never easy. While dealing with grief and loss, figuring out what happens to their personal belongings can often be an afterthought. Unfortunately, if a person passes away without a will, their property might eventually be distributed according to the laws of their state.

Creating an estate plan is crucial in protecting your estate after death. An estate plan will allow you to plan for the future and provide for your loved ones after you are gone. Contact an estate planning attorney today to properly protect your estate. They will provide you with the necessary guidance and resources to create an estate plan that reflects your wishes.

Don’t wait to start protecting your estate and loved ones—take action now!

Call Cary Estate Planning.

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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