April 19, 2019

What Happens to My Assets If I Don’t Have a Will?

Who inherits your property and wealth when you pass away? If you don’t have a will, you can’t be sure. A conversation with your family, a signed letter, nor a recording will guarantee that your final wishes will be granted. A valid will ensures that your valuables go exactly where you want them to.

But where would your assets go if you didn’t have a will? Most simply put, “It depends.”

Are you single or married?

Unmarried people will have their assets divided equally between their children, if they have any. When the unmarried person has no children, the assets may be transferred to parents or siblings. If both parents are living, the assets are split between the parents. Siblings will get a share of the assets if only one parent is alive.

There are many reasons a person may not want to give their assets to their parents or siblings when they pass away.  A brother may be irresponsible with money or the parents may not approve of the deceased’s life choices. The money or property could cause more harm than good. Unfortunately, if the person passes without a valid will in place, and has no spouse or children, they don’t have a choice in who obtains their assets.

On the other hand, when a person without a will is married, all of those assets belong to the spouse. This may sound sufficient, but it is still a good idea to have a will, especially if you have or plan to have children.


You can set terms in your will and withhold assets until a family member is able to responsibly manage them.

Do you have children?

A married person who only has children with their spouse will have his or her assets split between the spouse and the children. The spouse will retain all assets that were shared during the marriage, such as joint accounts, and also receive a portion of the deceased’s personal assets. A person who wants their children to receive a greater portion of the assets must denote that in a valid will. A spouse may promise to transfer assets to children, but without a will, there’s no guarantee.

When the deceased has children with someone other than his or her spouse, both parties must split various assets. This includes shared assets. Also, the spouse will retain the deceased’s real estate. If the spouse is separated but not divorced, he or she will still receive the deceased’s assets.

What if I name beneficiaries?

It is important to know that beneficiary designations preside over even a valid, written will. However, before deciding to forego a will, a person must decide if that is really best. Have contingent beneficiaries been named? Will the designations be kept current? What about physical assets such as real estate or vehicles? A transfer-on-death is slightly different than a beneficiary designation. Just because a form seems easier to fill out doesn’t mean its the best method of transferring assets.


Our team of experts can draft your will and secure your assets.


Contact Us If You Need A Will

It’s always wise to have a will in place. If you have family members with special needs or have unique family circumstances, a will is especially important. Regardless of your family situation, at Monks Law Firm, we can ensure that your assets will be handles properly upon your passing. Call (713) 666-6657 or contact us here to speak to one of our experienced attorneys about drafting a will today.