Figuring out who inherits which parts of your estate is a key component of estate planning. And while your Illinois estate planning lawyer can help you create a plan that clearly outlines your wishes, it’s still helpful if you understand the ins and outs of the state’s rules before you start. This way, you’ll have an idea of what to expect if there are any concerns about the validity of your will. Here’s what you need to know about the Illinois order of inheritance.

Who Inherits When You Die With a Will?

If you die with a will and a clear estate plan in place, the state will typically allow the people you appoint in your will to inherit the aspects of the estate you allocate to them. That’s why creating a will and an estate plan is so important. It gives you the chance to clearly state what you want to happen to the assets you worked so hard to acquire over the course of your life. 

You’re free to leave your assets to whomever you wish. This may be a surviving spouse, child, grandchild, friend, or even a charitable cause you’re passionate about. Just make sure you’re working with an Illinois estate planning lawyer. They’ll make sure the will is enforceable and covers everything you need it to.

Who Inherits When You Die Without a Will?

When you pass away without a will, the state has to rely on certain legal rules to determine who inherits your estate. Typically, your estate will go to your closest surviving relatives, but the order in which your relatives inherit property will depend on their relationship with you. Here’s a quick overview.

Spousal Inheritance Rules

If you have a spouse, the amount they’ll inherit will depend on whether or not you have other living heirs like children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If you’re married and have no surviving heirs other than your spouse, your spouse will receive your entire estate. But if you have other surviving heirs, your spouse will only receive half of the estate or inheritance. Your other heirs will receive the other half.

Surviving Child Inheritance Rules

If your spouse passed away before you or you don’t have a spouse or legally recognized partner, your children will receive the full estate. This is true for legally adopted children, biological children, and children born out of wedlock, even those you may not have had a relationship with. 

The state will determine how much of the estate each child receives. And they’ll be able to oversee the distribution of the estate. 

Unmarried and Without Children Inheritance Rules

If you pass away without a spouse or living children or grandchildren, the state will look to the rest of your surviving family. If your parents are still alive and you have no siblings, your parents will inherit your entire estate. If you have surviving parents and siblings, they’ll inherit equal portions of your estate. And if you have surviving siblings but your parents have passed away, your siblings will receive the whole estate. This is true even if you’re estranged from your siblings or haven’t spoken to them in years.

Creating an Estate Plan Is Always a Good Idea 

Even if the Illinois order of inheritance is something you wish to follow, outlining those wishes in a will is worth the effort. Remember, your will gives you a chance to specify who receives what and makes it easier to reduce the risk of disputes over your estate when you pass away. 
Schedule a consultation with Legacy & Life Law Firm today. Our experienced Illinois estate planning lawyers can help you create a will that clearly states how you want your estate handled when you pass away.