If my husband and I die, does our child automatically inherit?

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If my husband and I die, does our child automatically inherit?

My husband and I have one 21 year old child; we have no Will. If we both die, would she automatically get everything (property, life insurance, etc)?

Asked on June 16, 2011 under Estate Planning, Iowa

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If someone dies without a Will they die "intestate". This means that the laws of the state that they were domiciled in at the date of their death will control the distribution of their estate. Typically, 1/3 goes to the surviving spouse and 2/3 to the children. So, for example, if you pre-deceased your husband he would get approximately 1/3 of your estate and your daughter would get 2/3. Upon your husband's passing your daughter would get all ofhis assets unless he re-married, in which event his spouse would get 1/3 of his estate (or whatever he left his wife in a Will if he has one at that time) and her daughter would get the remaining 2/3.

As for the insurance, whoever is listed as the beneficiary would get it. If you name your estate , then the proceeds would have to be included in your estate. For many reasons this is not optimal. You should really list a person(s) as the designated beneficiary.

Right now might be a good time to sit down with an estate planning attorney and go over your best options. This can be a very complicated area of the law and you want to make sure your estate is distributed as you would like.


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