Does the State take everything if I die without a Will?

Alycia Gelin-Burr, Paralegal

Alycia Gelin-Burr, Paralegal

The misconception that the State will automatically seize all of your assets if you die without a Will is quite common.  It is however, in most circumstances, untrue. 

Why people don’t have a Will:

There are many reasons why people don’t have a Will.  The thought never occurs to some, while others don’t want to spend the money on getting one drafted.  Some people believe they are too young or don’t have enough money or assets to warrant getting a Will drafted and some people just don’t want to think about their own mortality.  Whatever the reason, it is important that people make it a priority and get it done.  After all, who doesn’t get satisfaction from checking something off your “To Do” list? 

What happens if I die and never got around to getting a Will?

When someone dies without Last Will and Testamenta Will, it is referred to in the legal community as dying intestate.  Contrary to popular belief, the State will look really hard for your closest living relatives to determine who would receive your assets under the laws of intestacy.  The New Hampshire law concerning the distribution of your property is R.S.A.561:1  and it outlines in what circumstances and in what order your relatives inherit your estate assets.

Who will inherit my property, car, etc. if I don’t have a Will?

The law looks to your surviving spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and even grandparents to inherit if you die without a Will.  If someone had no living relatives that qualify to inherit under R.S.A. 561:1 , only then would the State acquire your assets.  The legal terminology used when the State acquires your assets is escheat.  For example:  “My fourth cousin removed, “Joe” was not a close enough relative and his assets escheated to the State.”

You can find more information about why you should have a Will in our Estate Planning Blogs or by clicking here.  If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the drafting of a custom estate plan to achieve your goals and ensure the people you want to get your belongings get them, please give us a call at (603) 943-5647 or click Contact Us

The first step would be a free consultation to evaluate and discuss your needs.  You will leave with a plan of action.  (603) 943-5647