The Cosgrove Law Firm LLC


What happens when you die...without a will

Is this you? You take meticulous care of your financial affairs; spending hours on the internet shopping for the best rates on everything from mortgages to cars, the best interest rates for your bank accounts, best prices for every purchase. Seems silly to earn it and not have a plan for it after you die.  Not all of us get to live until 95.  Death can come to us anytime.  Whether you call a law firm like mine to truly work out the ideal estate plan, use a Groupon for a robo-will or scratch a will out on a cocktail napkin (totally fine), do something soon.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

In Illinois if you die without a will, AKA, intestate and/or you are survived by a spouse or descendants, the following occurs:

If you are survived by a spouse and descendants – Your spouse will inherit one-half of your estate and your descendants will inherit the remaining one-half per stirpes.

If you are survived by a spouse and no descendants – Your spouse will inherit your entire probate estate.

If you are survived by descendants and no spouse – Your descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.

But what if you do not have a spouse or descendants?

If you are survived by parents, siblings and/or descendants of a deceased sibling – Your parents and siblings will equally inherit your estate. If one parent is dead, then the surviving parent will inherit a double share. If a sibling is deceased then their descendants will inherit the share, per stirpes.

If you are not survived by parents, brothers, sisters, or descendants of brothers or sisters- Your estate will be divided so that one-half will go to your paternal family and the other half will go to your maternal family. If there are no survivors on one side the other side will get everything.

Not survived by any family members?  Your estate will go to the State of Illinois.

What is your estate? It’s what’s left over after your expenses are paid.


Who is your descendant? Your children, excluding stepchildren, unless you adopted.


What does per stirpes mean? It means that if a descendant is dead, then their descendants share equally in your descendant’s portion of the estate.






Audrey Cosgrove