What if I Die Without A Will?

Michigan law sets up rules for distribution of your property if you die without a valid will. These rules are called “intestate succession”.  The way your property is distributed under intestate succession depends on which of your relatives survive you and how large your estate is. The law calls your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. (by birth or adoption) your “descendants”. Your descendants’ portion of your estate is distributed by “representation”. This means the descendants’ portion is divided into shares equal to the number of your living children and your deceased children who left their own living children. Your surviving children each take one share.


The other shares are divided equally among your grandchildren whose parents are deceased. Grandchildren whose parent survived you do not take anything. If all your children die before you, the descendants’ portion of your estate is divided equally among all your surviving grandchildren.



The process of overseeing the distribution of your property is administered through the probate court (generally called probate).  Some kinds of property are distributed after your death with no reference to a will or intestate succession because probate is not required. Some examples follow.


ü  Life Insurance and Other Assets with a Designated Death

ü  Beneficiary

ü  Joint Property

ü  Trusts


If You Die Leaving a Surviving Spouse

In addition to his/her intestate share your spouse is entitled to certain allowances and exemptions that are adjusted every year for inflation.  This amount is taken before the intestate share (discussed below) is distributed.


If You Die Without a Surviving Spouse

§  If you have surviving descendants they take your entire estate by representation.

§  If you have surviving parents but no surviving descendants, your parents take your entire estate in equal shares.

§  If you have no surviving parents or descendants your brothers and sisters take your entire estate in equal shares.

§  Children of deceased brothers or sisters (your nieces and nephews) take by representation.

§  If you have no surviving parents, descendants, brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews your estate goes to your grandparents or if they are deceased to descendants of your grandparents.

§  If you die leaving none of the relatives discussed above your entire estate goes to the state of Michigan.

If you want a different distribution of your property from Michigan’s intestate succession distribution, you will need a will.  Contact Samantha Moffett at (248) 624-5500


1 Comment

Filed under All You Need To Know About Wills

One response to “What if I Die Without A Will?

  1. Pingback: Who Is In Charge Of My Will After I Die | Ambrose Law Group

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