Howard & Hardyman LLP

Understanding intestate succession

Despite the repeated suggestions offered by estate planning experts, many in Rockford are ill-prepared in regards to the issue of estate administration. Even something as simple as making a will is often overlooked. Indeed, study data shared by the American Association of Retired Persons shows that only four out of every 10 American adults has a will. Yet many may avoid preparing a will out of fear that their beneficiaries will be angered by their decisions. They may simply think it to be better to allow said beneficiaries to decide amongst themselves who gets what once they are gone. 

Unfortunately, that is not an option. The state has developed intestate succession guidelines that determine how estate assets are to be dispersed when one dies without making a will. According to the Illinois Probate Act, in such a scenario, the entirety of one's estate would go to their surviving spouse if they have no direct descendants. If they do have children or grandchildren still alive (and were also survived by a spouse), then half of the estate goes to the surviving spouse, and the remaining half to the descendants (to be split equally amongst them). If one has no surviving spouse, then their entire estate would go their descendants. 

In cases where one dies intestate (without a will) and has no surviving spouse or descendants, the law then dictates that their estate be dispersed in the following order of priority: 

  • Parents, siblings and siblings' descendants
  • Grandparents
  • Cousins 
  • Nearest kindred

In cases where none of the aforementioned parties exist, then the decedent's real estate becomes the property of the county in which it is located, and all personal property escheats to the county in which the decedent resided. 

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  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • WCBA | Winnebago County | Bar Association | Established 1996
  • United States Court Of Appeals | Seventh Circuit
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • United States District Court For The Northern District Of Illusions
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