If you die without making a will, a court will distribute your property according to the laws of your state. This process is called “intestate succession” or “intestacy.” Who gets what depends on who your closest relatives are. The most likely recipients are your spouse, your children, your parents, or your siblings.
Intestate succession probably won’t determine the fate of all your property. Property that passes outside a will is not subject to intestacy rules. For example, property you put in a living trust passes directly to the beneficiaries you named. The same is true for other property -- like life insurance or a retirement account -- for which you directly named a beneficiary.
Read the articles below to learn more about how intestate succession works in your state.