If my wife dies without a Will, who is the beneficiary?

There are 2 children; a daughter (41) by her first marriage and a son (25) by us. The son has Downs Syndrome.

Asked on July 22, 2014 under Estate Planning, Virginia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies "intestate" (i.e. without a Will), the "succession" laws of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of death will control. Typically, in such a situation such as yours, 1/2-1/3 goes to the surviving spouse with the remainder equally split among the children of the deceased. To find the exact statutory distribution in your jurisdiction, you can google "intestacy" and the name of your state. As for the child with Down's Syndrome, the court will establish a Trust for the child's benefit.

At this point, you may want to contact an attorney in your area for further information.

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