Godfrey residents are counseled to create a will early on in their lives. However, even with this advice in place, many fail to see to their estate planning. Indeed, according to information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons, only 4 in 10 American adults have created any type of estate planning instrument. Some may think that if they do not have a will, their heirs will be able to decide how to divide their assets on their own, However, that is not the case. The state sets forth the terms of how one’s estate is distributed if they die intestate (without a will). 

The details of Illinois’ guidelines for intestate succession can be found in Section 2-1 of the state’s Probate Act. They recognize a decedent’s surviving spouse as the first one entitled to receive any portion of an intestate estate. If the decedent had no surviving descendants, then their surviving spouse is entitled to the entirety of their estate. If, however, the decedent did leave descendants, then one-half of the estate will go to them, with the remaining half going to their surviving spouse. 

In cases where one who dies intestate does not have a surviving spouse, then their entire estate is divided equally amongst their descendants. If there are no descendants, then estate would go to a decedent’s parents and siblings. Each of the aforementioned parties would receive an equal portion; the exception would be if one of the decedent’s parents had already deceased, in which case the surviving parent would receive a double portion. If, however, one has no surviving direct family members, their intestate estate would go their grandparents, and then their next of kin. If no such parties could be found, then the county in which the resident lived would assume ownership of their assets.