Estate planning experts routinely suggest that people begin the process of drafting their wills early on in their adult lives. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that this advice often goes unheeded. According to information shared by Gallup, only about 44% of American adults actually have a will.
Many people might question the need for creating such a document, thinking it is better to allow their family members to determine the distribution of their estate. Others might prefer to let their family members sort it out themselves and thereby avoid upsetting anyone with the terms of their estate plan. However, the law does not allow for this.
When someone dies without having created a will, the state classifies their estate as “intestate.” At that point, state law regulates its dispersal.
Section 112.025 of Oregon’s Revised Statutes states that the surviving spouse of a person who dies intestate stands to inherit their entire estate, if the decedent does not have any surviving children. If the decedent’s children are not also the descendants of the surviving spouse, then the spouse’s share of the estate reduces to one-half, with the other half going to the descendants in equal portions.
If someone dies intestate and has no surviving spouse, their estate passes in the following order:
- Next of kin
If there is no surviving kin, then the estate passes to the state.
Highlighting the need for a will
No allowances exist under Oregon’s intestate succession law for anyone that is not directly related to the decedent. This would exclude friends, business partners, public institutions or charities from benefitting from an estate. If someone wants to leave assets to such a party, they must directly detail that desire in a will.