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What is intestate succession?

Posted on June 16, 2017

North Jefferson County residents are constantly counseled to see to their estate planning early on in life. The main reason behind this advice is to help you retain control of how your assets are handled and dispersed. This leads to the inevitable question of what happens if you die without a will. Control over who gets what from your estate is then handed over to the state.

If you die without a will, your estate in then considered to be “intestate.” The state has developed its own guidelines on how your assets and property should descend. These rules regarding intestate succession can be found in Section 474.010.1 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. According to these guidelines, your surviving spouse would receive:

  • Your entire estate if you have no other surviving issue (descendants)
  • The first $20,000 of the value of the estate, plus one-half of the remaining balance if there are surviving issue that are descendants of you both
  • One half of the estate of your surviving issue are not his or her direct descendants

Your children are entitled to one-half of your estate to be divided into equal parts among them, or the entire estate if you have no surviving spouse. If your children have preceded you in death, then your estate passes to your grandchildren, your parents, your siblings and their descendants, and then to any lineal relations you may have. If you have no surviving issue or relations, and your spouse died before you, then your estate will go to his or her surviving kindred.

Notice that no assets are reserved for unwed partners, friends or charitable organizations. Thus, if you wish to pass any of your assets on to such parties, having a will is essential.