What happens if I don’t have a will?

Answer: When a person dies without a will, it is referred to as intestate.  The family is often uncertain as to who is in control of the estate and the funeral arrangements. If the deceased has a surviving spouse, that person becomes the legal next-of-kin.  Without a spouse, the chain continues to the oldest adult child, then the parents, then oldest adult grandchild, and further down the line to nieces and nephews. If the proper next of kin should decline their duties, it is passed on to the next person in line.  The next of kin then needs to file a request with the courts to be named the administrator before they are granted access to the estate.  However, when there is no legal will, the administrator of the estate is obligated to follow legislation regarding the division of the estate.  This division is based on the value of the deceased’s estate. If the estate is worth less than $40,000, the entire estate will be passed to the spouse. If the estate is worth more than $40,000 the spouse will receive the first $40,000 and the rest of the estate will be divided according to the Intestate Succession Act. The details of this Act can be found online here. Your funeral director can answer any further questions you may have.