You might believe that by avoiding stipulating who receives your assets when you die, you instead leave the decision to your heirs. This saves you from being blamed for favoring certain heirs over others. Unfortunately, the administration of the estates of those who die intestate (without a will) ie left to the state to manage. Thus, anyone who you might want to receive assets from your estate whose relationship to you is not addressed in the state's intestate succession laws would not be included amongst your heirs.
Just what are the local intestate succession statutes? They can be found in Section 11.04.015 of the Revised Code of Washington. They state that the first to be entitled to your intestate estate would be your surviving spouse. On top of receiving all of your shared community property, they would receive the following percentages of your separate property:
- 100 percent if you have no surviving issue (direct descendants)
- 75 percent if you have no surviving issue but are survived by parents or siblings
- 50 percent if you have surviving issue
In the aforementioned scenarios, your issue or other family members who would be entitled to equal portions of whatever amount of your estate would be owed to that particular group.
If your spouse precedes you in death, then your intestate estate would pass to your descendants. Equal portions shall again be allotted to those of equal degree of kinship. If you have nor surviving spouse or issues, then the sequence of entitlement becomes your parents, siblings, your sibling's descendants, your grandparent's, and finally your grandparent's surviving descendants. Knowing the state's intestate succession guidelines might provide you with further incentive to create your own will so that your beneficiaries know it is you determining who gets what.