If I Die Without a Will and No Children

Does Government Take My Assets?

No. In law, if you do not have a will when you die, you are considered to have died "intestate." When this happens, the intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property is distributed upon your death. This includes all your assets, bank accounts, securities, real estate, and other assets you own at the time of death.


In most states, your property is distributed in shares to your "heirs," which include your surviving spouse, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, and distant relatives. Generally, if you had no relatives at all at the time of your death, only then will the entire estate go to the state.

If you are single and childless, your parents will receive your entire estate if they are both living. Otherwise it will be divided among your brothers and sisters (including half-siblings) and your surviving parent, if one parent has already died.

If you have no surviving parents at the time of your death, then your entire estate will be divided among our siblings, in equal shares.

If there are no surviving parents, siblings, or the children of the deceased's siblings (nieces and nephews), then the relatives on your mother's side would inherit one-half of the estate, with the other one-half passing to the relatives on your father's side.

If you are single and have children, then your entire estate generally will go to your children, in equal shares. If any child has died before you, and that child has any children, then his or her share will go to your grandchildren.

If you are married but have no children, depending on how your assets are owned when you die, your estate will either go entirely to your surviving spouse (if community property), or split between your surviving spouse, siblings, and parents. If you are married with children, your entire estate will go to your surviving spouse (if all children are the children of your surviving spouse).

Unmarried Couples

If you are in  a relationship but are not married to each other, your surviving boyfriend or girlfriend does not inherit your property if there is no will. Unless there is a valid will which clearly states how you had intended to distribute your property, the deceased's property will be divided among relatives, depending on their relation to the deceased, as explained above.

Domestic Partners

If you have a domestic partner at the time of your death, a special rule applies. Of course this is not true in every state, so you should check to see if your state recognizes domestic partnerships. If it does, then your property will be distributed accordingly. In such a state, if you die without a will and are survived by a domestic partner, your domestic partner inherits the same as a surviving spouse, depending on how you owned the property.

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