If you die without a will, you and your estate become intestate. This means that the laws of your state covering intestacy will control the distribution of your estate.
Intestacy laws specify all the possible combinations of living relatives. If you have no will and no heirs, your estate will become the property of the state of Indiana.
In Indiana, if your spouse is living and there are no children, she will receive 100% of your estate. If you do have children, half the estate will go to your surviving spouse and the rest to your children. These laws vary from state to state in terms of what defines an heir and the percentage allocation. In Indiana, the statute specifies that if you have no living aunts, uncles, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings, or a spouse, your cousins are next of kin.
The law can handle the technical aspects of your estate distribution if you haven’t prepared a will. However, there is much more to consider. For example, in Indiana, you typically cannot disinherit your spouse, but you can disinherit one or all of your children. If you have a will in place, after distributing the portion required to go to your spouse, you can do whatever you want with the rest. You may have a good reason for not wanting a person to inherit anything from you, and if you have a will, you have a choice. Without one, you don’t.
Having a will in place makes it easier for your family and gives you much more control over what happens when you’re gone.