A common question that we here at Mack & Mack Attorneys receive from potential clients in Fort Mill is what happens if one dies without a will. If you share the question, only you can know for sure your motives in asking it. Yet if you are like them, then it is likely not due to you simply not having the desire to prepare one (or the fear that you will nothing to pass on).
Rather, most people fear the potential offending would-be beneficiaries with their estate plans. Thus, you may believe that if you never stipulate how to divide up your assets, your heirs will be free to make those decisions themselves.
Understanding intestate succession
Sadly, that is not the case. It is the state that determines the dispersal of your assets if you die intestate (the legal term for not leaving a will). South Carolina lists its intestate succession guidelines in Section 62-2-101 of the state’s Code of Laws.
Per these rules, your surviving spouse would be the primary beneficiary of your intestate estate. They would receive your entire estate if you have no direct descendants. If you do, then one-half of the estate’s values goes to them, while the over half goes to your descendants (divided equally).
If your spouse precedes you in death, then your intestate estate passes as follows:
- To your descendants
- To your parents (or their descendants)
- To your grandparents (or their descendants)
- To your great-grandparents (or their descendants)
Why should you create a will?
Some may be just fine with that order of succession. Yet you will notice that no allowances exists for anyone not related to you. If you want to leave assets to any non-relations (e.g. friends, business associates, charities), you need to detail that in a will.
You can find more information on estate planning throughout our site.