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What does 'intestate' mean and why should you worry about it?

Having an estate plan should be a priority for every person, but obviously the ideal outcome isn't always reality. Not every person has an estate plan, and not every person even has the desire to even start one. It is simply unrealistic to think that everyone will have an estate plan, despite the clear advantages and benefits to having one.

With that said, what happens when people die without an estate plan in place? This is called dying "intestate." When someone's estate is "intestate" it means that their estate, belongings, assets and property default to state rules and laws for disseminating property and doling out assets to beneficiaries and other parties.

While this may not sound like a big deal initially, it can cause quite a stir with your family and loved ones as the "intestate" label risks your estate being handled in a way that neither you nor your loved ones see fit. Even though it depends on the case and it depends on the state laws, having an "intestate" estate can cause serious legal problems and spark litigation between beneficiaries and interested parties.

This is why having a will and a clear, well-organized estate plan is so important for anyone. It doesn't matter if you don't have many assets -- just the fact that you have a proper will and an organized estate plan can do wonders for both you and your loved ones.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens If You Die Without a Will?," Accessed April 4, 2017

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