Laying out your estate plans can seem like a daunting process. Confronting the prospect of your own mortality may seem unnerving, but beyond that, you may not look forward to potentially offending any of your descendants in Illinois.
You may share the same assumption held by many of those who come to see us here at Mockaitis Law (that being that if you do not prepare a will, your heirs will be able to determine the dispersal of your estate). Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Estate distribution when one dies without a will
If you die without preparing a will, the state classifies your estate as “intestate.” State law then controls who receives your assets (and how much each entitled party receives). According to Section 755 of Illinois’ Estates Code, your spouse receives your entire estate if you have no surviving descendants (if you do, then your spouse receives half of your estate, and your descendants receive the other half). If you have no spouse, then your intestate estate passes in the following order:
- To your descendants
- To your parents
- To your siblings (and their descendants)
- To your grandparents (or maternal and paternal kindred)
- To your great-grandparents
If there is no relative eligible to receive your estates, your assets pass to the country in which you lived.
Allowances for non-relatives?
As you read through the aforementioned details, you likely noticed that no allowances exist in Illinois’ intestate succession law for anyone not directly related to you. If you would like to pass on any assets to a friend, colleague, charitable organization or your alma mater, then you would need to stipulate that desire in a will.