Most people don’t want to think about planning for their own death. Maybe they hope that their loved ones will divide their assets fairly or that they don’t have enough assets to worry about. The reality is that everyone can benefit from an estate plan. Establishing a will isn’t just beneficial to you; it also helps your loved ones avoid conflict. However, many Missouri residents die without a will, leaving their spouse, children, and loved ones without a plan. Does the estate go to the spouse? Who is named next of kin? Dying without a will can make things complicated, here’s a look at what you can expect if you fail to plan your estate. 

last will and testament

Who is Next Of Kin in Missouri?

When someone dies in Missouri without a will, the spouse of the deceased is named as his or her next of kin. Next in line is any living child of the decedent, then his or her living parents, followed by any surviving brother or sister. If the decedent has no living relatives, then a friend can assume next-of-kin duties by accepting the responsibility for the deceased’s remains, including how the remains are handled. 

In order to accept the role of next of kin, a person must be mentally competent and willing to accept all responsibilities associated with being named next of kin. They must follow the order or priority for next of kin and, if someone comes forward with a higher priority, must object within 48 hours. 

What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will in Missouri?

Missouri has very specific protocols for what happens to a person’s assets if he or she dies without a will. All assets must be distributed in a very specific order and in very specific amounts as mandated by Missouri law. The decedent’s spouse receives all or the majority  of the estate as long as there are no living children. If there is no surviving spouse or descendants, then the will is divided equally among other relatives. Someone who passes away without a will and with no surviving relatives will forfeit their assets to the state of Missouri. 

Dying without a will leaves the question of how your assets are distributed in the hands of the law. You have ideas about how you want your assets distributed among your family and friends, but that goes out the window if it isn’t laid out in a will. It’s never too early – or too late – to start planning for your estate. 

Missouri Estate Planning Lawyer

The best way to avoid confusion over your assets is to start planning your estate today. It’s never too early for estate planning, and the team at Mark Harford Law is ready to provide our expertise. From Durable Power of Attorney to wills and trusts, we assist with your estate plan to solidify your wishes. We’re also here to help if you’re in the middle of probate or a trust dispute. No matter your needs, the expert knowledge of Mark Harford Law is just a consultation away. Contact us today to learn more.