Simply put, Intestate is without a Will. When someone dies without a Will and leaves assets, the state has a process of how to distribute those assets and has determined who receives the assets. This is called Intestate Succession.
Some people may agree with the state’s plan, but most people do not and must at the very least prepare a Will.
Here is an example of the state’s plan. Let’s say Dave married Jen who had a child, Sam, from a prior marriage; Dave has no children. If Dave dies without a Will, Jen receives all of Dave’s assets. Although, if Jen dies without a Will, Dave receives half of Jen’s assets and Sam receives the other half.
If Sam is under age 18 at the time of Jen’s death, the court would need to appoint a guardian for him, unless Sam’s father was still living. Either Sam’s father or the guardian appointed by the court would also most likely be in charge of the assets Sam receives from Jen’s estate.
Imagine the uncertainty in Sam’s life, especially if his father was not living. Where would he live until the court appointed a guardian? Who would want him? Who could afford to have him? Who is looking after the assets he receives? If you think you know but haven’t prepared the proper documents, you really don’t know.
After reading this short info-brief and a portion of the statute you may understand why you need to hire an Estate Planning attorney to help you plan for your family’s well-being.