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What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?

If you do not have a will, what happens to your property and money varies depending on where you live. In Washington, DC, the rules can get a little confusing.

For example, if you pass away leaving behind a spouse or domestic partner, but no parents and no children, everything you owned at the time of your death goes to your partner or spouse. Easy enough, and probably pretty close to what you would want, anyway.

But what if your situation gets more complex? For example, if you had a child with your first husband but then remarried and had two more. What if your parents survive you, or if you and your domestic partner raised children together, at least one of whom came with your partner from a previous relationship? In these situations, distributing your property according to Washington, DC intestacy law can get a bit more complicated.

This doesn’t even begin to address the tax and probate issues that those you leave behind will unfortunately have to deal with. The best way to make sure your money and property go where they should — and to make sure you have the resources you need in case of disability — is proactive and early estate planning. Estate planning will give you the opportunity to determine who should get what and under what circumstances, as well as outline the steps you should take to minimize the tax burden on your estate.

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