Most in Fowlerville will likely agree that it is important to have a plan in place for accounting for the distribution of one’s assets when they die. Yet despite recognizing this, many American adults still do not have a will (indeed, per information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons, roughly only 40 percent actually have written a will). Many may not completely comprehend what might happen if they die without a will (some might actually think that their heirs will be allowed to decide themselves how their assets should be dispersed). Unfortunately, that is not the case. 

Individual states have established their own guidelines on how the handle the estates of those who die intestate (without a will). Michigan’s can be found in Section 700.2102 of the state’s Compiled Laws. Here it states that the spouse of one who dies without a will would inherit their entire estate if they left behind no descendants and were preceded in death by their parents. If the decedent does have descendants, then their spouse would be entitled to the first $150,000 of the estate’s assets, and then one-half of the remaining amount (that initial entitlement lowers to $100,000 of the descendants are not also biologically related to the spouse). Their spouse is entitled to the same amount plus three-quarters of the estate’s remaining value if they have no descendants but are survived by their parents. 

If one who dies intestate was not married, their descendants would be entitled to their estate, followed by their parents and then their siblings (or their siblings’ descendants). If one has no such surviving relatives, their estate is then divided equally between their paternal and maternal kindred.