by Gordon Jeremiah Berry
It is often a very complicated and undesirable matter to talk about or discuss when it’s comes to dying and a last will and testament. However, it is very necessary and important; if someone wishes to have their assets and body handled in a certain way, having a will is vital. If someone were to die without a will, it means they died “intestate.” The intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property is distributed upon your death. This would include any bank accounts, securities, real estate, and other assets you own at the time of death. Real estate owned in a different state from where the person lived would be handled under the intestacy laws of the state where the property is located.
The state would then decide how your property is distributed. Each state has its own laws about how intestacy works. However when it comes to how the property is distributed, the basic following guidelines are often used.
First, if you have a spouse and children, the property is divided among them. Second, if you have no children or spouse, your parents would get your property. Third, if you have no spouse, children, or parents, your brothers and sisters would share your property. Fourth, if you have no spouse, children, parents, brothers, or sisters, your property would go to your grandparents, aunts or uncles, niece and nephews, in that order. Lastly, if there is no one to give your property to, it would become property of the state of your legal residence.
The Legal Requirements for a Last Will and Testament would be determined by a probate court, yet it will not be enforced unless the following criteria are met.
First, “soundness of mind”, you must prove you are of sound mind. Second, “free will”, you must prove that you are acting on your own free will, without undue influence or duress from others. Third, you must “sign in front of witnesses”; you must sign and date your will in front of at least two people, neither of whom can be related to you or entitled to receive anything under the “last will and testament”.
Intestacy laws due vary from state to state, yet they generally follow the same path, especially for smaller estates. If someone dies with no will and no property to claim, and their assets are less than $100,000, no formal court proceeding is required. Family members can file a Declaration of a small estate through a bank, then you would be allowed to split the deceased’s assets.
Intestacy laws around the world are almost the same as they were in ancient times if the person that died had no will and the deceased had no living relatives, their property would be turned over to the state.
If someone died without a will and wanted to donate organs or their body to medical science, it’s best to tell the hospital as soon as possible. Each hospital will have their own policies for dealing with this type of situation. Someone with the hospital staff may approach you if they feel others could be helped through organ donation. Organs will not be taken without your permission. If the deceased wanted their body to be donated to medical science, contact the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). Not all bodies will be accepted for example, if there has been a post mortem examination or the organs have been removed.
If some dies that has only stated verbal wishes about how their death would be handled, then you must make sure to register the death at a local register office within five days, except where the body has been referred to the coroner. You will need to take the medical certificate with you. After registering the death, you’ll be given a death certificate, then you will be able to go ahead and plan a funeral or memorial service.
If there are no written instructions from the deceased, cremation is not permitted if it is opposed by the deceased’s spouse or next of kin. If the body of a person deceased is not claimed for burial, the state will bury you—in most cases, in an unmarked group grave. In most cases between friends and family, they scrap up enough for a simple burial or cremation (which may be done for about $300 U.S dollars). There are also non-profit groups that help out.
If there were to be a dispute about where the deceased should be buried and they died without a will the usual thing that happens is that the person entitled to a grant of administration is normally the person responsible for the burial of the body. This would also go in the same order of property and assets entitlement of the surviving relatives. If the deceased were cremated, the ashes are given to the person who applied for the permit to allow cremation.
It even affects famous people. In recent news, the death of famous musician Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson), it has been reported that he died without a will. This raises awareness for the need for a will or at least making sure you have the right people and friends that you would feel comfortable in knowing that they would handle your untimely death with respect and dignity as we will find out in the coming weeks.
About the Author
Gordon Jeremiah Berry, is an avid reader and intense researcher. Mr. Berry looks for the deeper meaning behind all things. His favorite saying is “Love must always win out!”