The public is full of misconceptions of what happens when you die with or without a will. For example, many people believe that if they die without a will, the State of Oregon will take whatever they have. That’s wrong. Others believe that if a will goes through probate, the attorneys will charge against all of the assets in the estate. That’s also wrong. Here’s what happens in Oregon if you die without a will, and why everybody should have one.

Without a will

When a person dies without a will, how his or her estate is distributed is governed by what’s known as the law of intestate succession. Only those assets that might have been disposed of with a will are affected by intestate succession. Some things that aren’t included are:

  • Real estate held with right of suvivorship
  • Retirement accounts with named beneficiaries
  • Pay on death bank accounts
  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy

Property that’s transferable pursuant to the law of intestate succession is basically anything that you might own in your name only. Who takes what depends on whether you have a living wife, children or other relatives at the time of your death. Under the law of intestate succession, you won’t be able to choose who the executor of your estate might be or how your estate is distributed. Those are two of the primary purposes of wills.

With a will

Estate planning involves the distribution of one’s assets after his or her death. One way that distribution of assets can occur is through wills. A will consists of instructions to your personal representative, and it tells how you want your estate distributed after your death. You’re also permitted to state your wishes regarding the care of any minor children that you might have, especially if a special needs child is involved. If you want a completely independent personal representative, you might want to appoint a bank or trust company for that purpose. Those entities are unlikely to be influenced by family members.

Requirements of a will

Every state has its own requirements for what a valid will is. Oregon’s basic requirements are as follow:

  • The maker of the will must be over the age of 18
  • He or she must be of sound mind
  • The will must be in writing
  • It must be witnessed by two independent witnesses

A will is a very important legal document that can affect everybody in your family. The Barbur Law Office can advise you on how your will should be drafted and executed. Most wills aren’t costly to prepare, and having us prepare your will for you gives you the assurance that you have a valid and binding estate plan. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions about estate planning and a will for you.