Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult, painful and stressful experiences that you will go through in life. Grief can take months or even several years to fully process, while the social and financial consequences of your loss could ripple out for many years to come. 

Your situation could be particularly difficult if your spouse died without a last will on record, which could mean complications when taking their name off of accounts or establishing yourself as the owner of an asset. 

The more complex your family structure, the more complicated your situation could become when attempting to retain assets you shared with your spouse after they die intestate or without a last will.

How Indiana handles intestate succession

One piece of information that may ease your mind during this current stressful situation as you cope with the loss of your spouse and try to handle the administration of their estate without a last will, it is that your position as their spouse gives you the most statutory rights of inheritance, although children also have a very strong claim.

If you and your deceased spouse shared children, you will receive half of the estate, while the children will split the other half. If your ex has children that were not yours, the amount of the inheritance decreases. You receive a quarter of the value of any real estate in the estate, as well as half of the value of other assets. If you don’t have children but your spouse has surviving parents, you receive 75% of the estate, while your in-laws receive the remaining 25%. 

Not all situations are the same, however. Many assets may simply pass directly from to you, such as the proceeds of any insurance policies on which you are the named beneficiary. An experienced attorney can help you handle your loved one’s estate.