Heymann & Fletcher
October 25, 2022

Testate vs Intestate Estates

Practice Area: Estate Administration and Litigation | Tag: Legal Advice

A section of law referred to as estate and probate law decides how your assets are distributed after you pass away. Estate laws are local laws regarding estate planning, testate inheritance, and intestate transfers. Estate laws vary from state to state, even city to city making it essential to have a firm understanding of local laws and regulations. In this blog article, we will discuss the difference between testate and intestate estates, outlining what you need to know about this critical area of law. 

Testate and Intestate Defined

A testate estate is one where the deceased has a legitimate Last Will and Testament document. There are two general requirements for a legitimate Last Will and Testament: It must be a written document and the decedent must have been ruled competent to make decisions at their time of death. 

Intestate estates are governed by state law and occur when someone dies without a legitimate Last Will and Testament. This could mean they did not create one, the will was ruled invalid, or the document can’t be found.  Typically, if there is a surviving spouse, they will inherit the assets. But the situation depends on who survives the deceased and who makes claims on the estate. When this kind of estate is in place, the state they reside in determines what comes next. Keep in mind, the decedent has no control over asset division in this case, meaning their estate will be decided by the state, possibly in contrast to their desires. 

The Importance of Estate Planning

Making sure you have a solid testate estate allows you to have confidence that your Last Will and Testament will be carried out without major conflict, which often occurs with intestate estates. Having an airtight will also ease the burden on surviving family and friends that may be included in the process, and ensures that your various assets will go to those you wish. In the case of custody, a strong will also protect your children, ensuring they are protected and supported by those you designate as the best fit.  At Heymann & Fletcher, we have years of experience in successfully assisting clients plan for their passing.

Though it may be challenging to start, leaving this type of planning shouldn’t be done last minute. To see points in drafting your will, read last month’s blog post for starters. Learn more about how Heymann & Fletcher can help with Estate Administration and Litigation and give us a call today.