By not leaving a valid will or trust, or by not transferring your property in some other way before death, you’ve left it to the law of your state to write your “will” for you. In the absence of a will, your state’s direction has made individual judgments about who should receive a decedent’s property. Those judgments may or may not bear any relationship to the judgments you would have made if you had prepared a will or executed a trust.
As a general rule, state law gives your property to the persons most closely related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption. As a result, your hard-earned money might end up with relatives who don’t need it, while others, whether related to you, who might need be in greater need, or who is more deserving, are passed over. In the unlikely event that you have no relatives or if your relatives cannot be located after diligent efforts, your property will go to the state, a big reason to have a will or trust.
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