If you die without leaving a will, you risk that your property will not be distributed as you desire. Your assets will be distributed according to the rules of your state’s “intestacy” statute, not by how close one was to you. Therefore, longtime friends or caretakers will not receive any of your estate.
Even when the heirs at law are the same as you would have selected yourself, there is no advantage dying without a will. For example, you lose the opportunity to designate a personal representative, trustee, guardian for minor children, and to do valuable planning.
With a well-drafted will you can avoid legal pitfalls, name a personal representative of your estate, name a guardian for your children, establish trusts, and minimize probate-related costs by providing for independent administration. Dying without a will may cause unexpected costs and delays and undesired results for the decedent’s family.