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What Is the Difference between Testate and Intestate?

Hiring a Seattle estate planning lawyer is critical for ensuring that your wishes are respected. A death in the family brings out the worst in people, and you want to avoid infighting, jealousy, and resentment.

The challenge is some people plan ahead by creating a will and leaving specific instructions for handling their estate. These situations are known as testate — when the person dies and leaves a valid will. Most wills are legal and describe how you want your assets distributed.

Intestate is when a person dies and doesn’t leave a will. Confusion could arise in these situations, and the courts resolve intestate cases following state law. Knowing these terms will help you to make an informed decision when creating an estate plan.

Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burges can help you with your estate plan. We have decades of experience working with estates and will ensure your wishes are respected. Contact us now at 206-621-1110 (Seattle), 253-572-1000 (Tacoma), or 360-742-3500 (Olympia) to speak with a skilled attorney.

What Is the Difference between Testate and Intestate Succession?

Testate succession and intestate succession are two legal principles that cover the distribution of property and assets.

Testate succession is distributing the deceased’s assets consistent with a valid will. The deceased created a will that outlines who inherits what assets and the proportions. An executor is responsible for carrying out these instructions, such as locating the beneficiaries and collecting and distributing the assets.

Intestate succession is when the deceased person does not leave a will. State law where the deceased resided decides the distribution of assets. These laws specify what relatives of the deceased are entitled to inherit the assets and the amounts. The distribution is based on the order of priority, where the spouses and children will receive the largest amounts.

The difference is that the court distributes the deceased person’s assets in intestate estates. Testate estates provide clear instructions about the distribution of assets. Intestate estates are decided by state law where the deceased resided when they died.

The distribution of assets is complicated even when you have a will. You could see disputes among beneficiaries, or the will’s validity is challenged. These situations are usually resolved by going to probate court. Probate is resolving these challenges and ensuring the assets are distributed equally.

We recommend speaking with a skilled attorney about your situation. Sorting through assets and figuring out what to do is complicated and requires a knowledgeable professional to help you. Time is of the essence in these cases, and you want to act fast to protect your interests. A skilled attorney will give you objective legal advice and help you to go through probate.

Legal Implications of Testate vs. Intestate

Testate and instate are two opposite legal terms referring to how a person’s assets are distributed.

Testate is when the person who died has a valid will. A will specifies how the deceased’s assets are distributed after their death. The will has to meet specific legal requirements, such as being signed by the person creating the will (the testator) and witnessed by two individuals who are not beneficiaries of the will. The will is the legal tool that guides the distribution of assets.

Intestate is when the person dies without a will, and the assets are distributed by state law. These are known intestacy laws specifying what assets and the proportions to be divided among the deceased’s heirs.

There are numerous legal implications for someone to die testate versus intestate, including

  • An executor manages the assets and ensures everything is distributed according to the will. A person who dies intestate lets a judge decide where the assets are divided using state intestacy laws.
  • Testate estates prevent disputes among family members over the assets. Everything is spelled out and is legally binding to ensure the orderly distribution of wealth. Intestate estates are filled with close relatives who have competing claims to assets. These cases could be in court for years until they are finally settled.

A will separates a testate from an intestate estate. It ensures your wishes are followed and you leave something to help those you are about the most. We recommend contacting a skilled attorney to create a will to establish a testate estate. Our team can create a will that distributes your assets according to your wishes and is legally binding.

Testate and instate estates matter in how the deceased’s assets are divided. A skilled attorney can help you to create or change how you distribute assets to those you care about the most.

Testate and Intestate Succession: What You Need to Know

In estate planning, testate and intestate succession are opposites of each other. A will has a significant role in deciding how your assets are distributed and in what amounts.

Testate Succession

Testate succession is when a person dies and there is a valid will. The distribution of property and assets is decided by the terms of the will. The will outlines the beneficiaries and what each one is entitled to receive.

A valid will give you peace of mind knowing that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. You can regularly review and update your will for major life changes such as divorce, childbirth, and marriage.

Intestate Succession

Intestate succession is when a person doesn’t have a valid will. State intestacy laws decide the distribution of assets and property. Assets are divided among the surviving spouse, children, and other relatives.

All assets can be the subject of legal challenges without a valid will. In some situations, the state will take possession of the asset if there is no will.

Planning for the Future

Estate planning is critical for ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. These include creating a will, establishing trusts, and designating beneficiaries for retirement, investment accounts, and life insurance policies.

A skilled attorney will help you to legally establish, plan, and execute a customized estate plan. We can help you to navigate complex legal requirements and reduce tax liabilities.

Testate and instate succession are concepts you need to understand regarding estate planning. We recommend planning for the future and creating a valid will. You will protect those you care about the most and ensure your assets go to those you want to have them. A skilled attorney simplifies the process of creating an effective estate plan that avoids legal challenges and conflicts.

Why Choose Us?

Proper estate planning requires working with skilled attorneys with the necessary knowledge and experience. The attorneys at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burges have decades of experience, and we practice estate law. Our skilled team will work with you to create, plan, and implement a customized estate plan that can withstand litigation and conflicts to distribute your assets to those you care about the most.

We have five-star reviews and will work with you to create an estate that meets your goals. Each estate is unique, and we listen to what you want to do with your assets. Our team will create a plan that distributes your assets according to your wishes. We simplify estate planning so you can enjoy your life and know you are helping those you care about the most after your death. Estate planning is complex, and we make distributing your assets to your heirs easier.