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Rhode Island Intestate Laws and the Importance of Drafting a Will

No one likes to think about what is going to happen with their property after they die; however, by thinking about the issue now, loved ones can be spared the enormous expense and hassle of dealing with the process after the fact. Thus, everyone should create a will to determine how they want their property divided in the event of their death.

If someone dies without a Rhode Island will, they are said to have died “intestate.” Each state has a set of laws that apply when someone dies intestate. In Rhode Island, the intestate laws are contained in Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 33-1.

Intestate laws can be complicated, and the manner in which a decedent’s property is divided depends on whether they are married and have children or grandchildren. The laws prioritize the spouse and children of the deceased; however, parents and siblings can end up with the entire estate if someone dies unmarried and without children. In many cases, Rhode Island intestate laws may not make sense and may not adequately effectuate the wishes of the deceased.

For example, under Rhode Island’s intestate laws, if someone dies with a spouse but no children, the spouse will not inherit everything. Instead, the spouse will be able to use the decedent’s real estate for the remainder of their life and will receive up to $75,000 worth of the decedent’s real estate. The spouse will also receive $50,000 of the decedent’s personal property as well as 50% of the balance.

If, however, someone dies with a spouse and children or grandchildren, the spouse will inherit a life estate for the decedent’s property as well as half of the decedent’s personal property. The remainder of the property will do to the deceased’s descendants. If, however, someone dies with no spouse or children, their parents will inherit the entire estate. If someone dies with no spouse, children, or parents, then the deceased’s siblings will inherit the whole estate.

Leaving the resolution of an estate up to the Rhode Island intestate laws can create uncertainty and may end up wasting a significant portion of an estate’s value through unnecessary legal and administrative fees. That said, while intestate laws are strictly enforced, they can easily be avoided by drafting a will.

Do You Need Help Drafting a Rhode Island Will?

If you do not currently have a Rhode Island will, or if you have a will that needs updating, contact the Rhode Island trust and estate attorneys at the law firm of Bilodeau Capalbo. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we have extensive experience assisting clients with all types of Rhode Island estate planning issues, including the drafting and modifying of Rhode Island wills. To learn more about how we can help you more effectively and efficiently prepare a Rhode Island will, or deal with any other estate planning issues, call 401-300-4055 to schedule a free consultation today.

See Related Posts:

Common Law Marriage in Rhode Island, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2018.

The Division of Property Following a Rhode Island Divorce, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, November 29, 2018.

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