Distribution of Assets

estate planning

Bob Saget, the famous comedian, and actor, who was host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, and starred as the beloved Danny Tanner in the sitcom Full House, passed away in January 2022 at the age of 65. Albeit mystery still surrounds his untimely death, passing away without a Will in place, leaves no mystery. Your estate will go through Probate. Period!

The distribution of those assets in the estate, regardless of how big or small, will go through a process referred to as “intestate succession”. This process varies from state to state, but usually follows a specific pattern of which family relative(s) are entitled to a portion of the inheritance, after all expenses have been paid by the estate.


A general understanding of how it works is as follows:

Intestate Succession

When a person dies without a Will, they are deemed to have died “intestate”. State laws determine how their assets are distributed. These laws are designed to distribute the estate assets to the closest relatives in a specific order. 

Spouse and Children: The estate is usually first divided among the surviving spouse and children. The exact division depends on state law:

  • If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse may be entitled to the entire estate.
  • If there is a surviving spouse and children, the estate is typically divided between them, although the percentages may vary from state to state.
  • If there are children but no surviving spouse, the children generally inherit the estate equally.

Parents and Siblings: If there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate may go to the deceased’s parents, if they are still living, and if not, the estate might be distributed to siblings.

Extended Family: If there are no immediate family members living (spouse, children, parents, or siblings), the estate can go to more distant relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

State: It is usually a close relative, to manage the estate. This person is responsible for gathering the deceased’s assets, paying any monies owed by the deceased, including credit cards, funeral expenses, taxes, etc., and distributing the remaining assets according to state law.

Steps in the Intestate

  • A state Probate court appoints an administrator: It is usually a close relative, to manage the estate. This person is responsible for gathering the deceased’s assets, paying any monies owed by the deceased, including credit cards, funeral expenses, taxes, etc., and distributing the remaining assets according to state law.
  • Asset Inventory: The administrator creates a detailed inventory of the deceased’s assets, including bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, personal property, etc.
  • Debt Payment: All outstanding debts and obligations of the deceased must be paid from the estate before the heirs are to receive any assets.
  • Distribution of Assets: After debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the rightful heirs as determined by state intestacy laws.

What this means to your family when you die?

Legal Fees and Time: The intestate process may likely be lengthy and costly due to legal and court fees.

Family Disputes: Intestate succession can sometimes lead to disputes among surviving family members. Court and Conflict may be inevitable.

Estate Taxes: If the assets are sizable, there may be estate taxes that need to be addressed, not to mention Capital Gains Taxes on properties to be sold.

Importance of a Will

Bob Saget’s situation underscores the importance of having a will, regardless of age or wealth. A will allows you to:

  • Specify who gets what asset that you have
  • Allow you to appoint a trusted executor to manage your affairs.
  • Name guardians for minor children, if applicable.
  • Peace of Mind by minimizing potential family disputes, court and conflict

A Trust is a Better Plan than a Will

For those interested in ensuring their estate is managed according to their wishes, avoiding court and conflict, minimizing Tax exposure and capital gains, and giving themselves peace of mind which will pass on to their loved ones, consulting with Pujol Law Group, an experienced Estate Planning Law Firm is in your best interest. Contact us today!

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