What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

estate plan

Caring.com conducts annual estate planning preparedness surveys. In 2021, they found that just 32.9 percent of American adults had wills or trusts in place.

For people that are 55 years of age and older, the figure was a surprising 44 percent. The lack of preparedness is not confined to younger people. That being stated, last year, a paltry 22.5 percent of individuals that are between 35 and 54 years of age had wills.

A single person with no dependents encounters minimal risk if they pass away without an estate plan.  If you are married, however, the situation is different.  It is further magnified if you have children.


When you die without any estate planning documents it is called intestacy. If this happens to you, the probate court will intervene to supervise the estate administration process.

The court will appoint a personal representative. This may be someone close to you.  This person would complete tasks that are handled by the executor when a will is used. Creditors would be notified, and final debts would be paid.

People that have a claim to the estate would have a chance to come forward. The court would gather all the relevant information. The personal representative will identify and inventory the assets that comprise the estate, and they will be prepared for distribution.

Steve McNair Case

In 2009, former NFL star Steve McNair was murdered by a woman that he was involved with romantically. McNair was married at the time, and he died without a will. His wife was named as the personal representative of the estate, which makes sense on the surface.

McNair was very good to his mother . He had bought her a beautiful home on a large tract of land, but it was in his name. His surviving spouse, Mechelle, started charging her full market value rent in her capacity as the personal representative of the estate.

McNair’s mother could not pay these bills, so she had to move from the home. Clearly, this was inconsistent with the late quarterback’s wishes, but a lack of planning can produce negative outcomes.

Intestate Succession

If you die intestate, your assets will be distributed under the intestate succession laws of the state of Oklahoma.  That is, of course, after all the administration tasks have been completed. This manner of distribution may result in distributions that are inconsistent with your wishes.

For example, if you are married when you die and your parents are still alive, your spouse would not get everything. The spouse would get all the property that was owned jointly, but would only get one third of your separate intestate property. Your parents could get the majority of the property. The same arrangement is in place if you leave a surviving spouse behind, and you have siblings.

These are just a couple of examples.  The bottom line is you have to put a plan in place if you want to be sure that your true wishes are carried out.

Take Action Today!

Intestacy is not an option for responsible adults that want to be certain that their loved ones are provided for under all circumstances. A lot of people that do not have plans recognize the fact that it is important, but are frozen with inaction because they don’t know where to start.

This is understandable, but you do not have to try to figure it all out by yourself. When you work with our firm, we will gain an understanding of your situation and provide recommendations so you can make informed decisions.

At the end of the process, you will have a custom crafted plan in hand, and you will have the peace of mind that goes along with it. If you are ready to get started, you can schedule an appointment at our Oklahoma City estate planning office if you call us at 405-843-6100.

There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message, and if you reach out through the internet, you will receive a prompt response.



Larry Parman, Attorney at Law
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