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What happens when a person dies without a will?

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2019 | Estate Planning, Probate

Your father died suddenly. No one was expecting it. Just one day, he was gone. You take it upon yourself to go through his legal papers but, having spoken with your mother, realize that he did not make a will 

Without a will, you fear your family will start arguing and fighting about who gets his coin collection or how much money each person receivesThe following information on the probate laws of Indiana may help to ease the stress. 

Intestate laws 

Your father died intestate, which is to say, without making a will. Although your father may have chosen who was to receive his money or possessions, the decision is now in the hands of the probate judge. Indiana Code 29-1-2-1 states who will inherit. The following breakdown is some but not the entirety of the code: 

 1spouse will inherit everything if there are no children and no parents. 

 2Children with neither parent still living inherit everything.  

 3If there are a spouse and children, the spouse gets half of the property, and the children inherit half. 

 4Living parents will receive everything if the person who died intestate does not have a spouse or children. 

Intestate laws do not affect some assets. These may include: 

  • Money or property transferred to a living trust 
  • Life insurance 
  • Retirement accounts 
  • Transfer-on-death accounts such as houses or cars 
  • Joint tenancy property 

These assets will go to the beneficiary or co-owner listed on the documents.  

Apportioning an inheritance 

As a child whose father just passed, you should receive a certain amount of the share of his property. However, the amount depends on the number of siblings you have and if your mother is alive. Any children your father adopted will inherit a share as well as any who were born to him after he died. Foster or stepchildren do not receive a part of the inheritance. 

Indiana law does not allow the court to award specific items to individual family members. A personal representative, usually a family member, may hold an estate sale and divide the proceeds as required by law.