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What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

Updated: Jun 19

If a person dies without a Will, that individual has relinquished the right to choose, who will inherit their assets. The estate will go to probate court, and a judge will determine, who is entitled to the assets.

A casket of a man who died intestate without a will

It is estimated that 68% of Americans die without a Will. Which means that 68% of Americans will not have the choice to determine, where their wealth goes after death.

What is dying without a Will called?

If you die without a will, you are said to have died "intestate". That means there are no instructions to distribute your estate, so an administrator, who is next to kin, needs to be appointed. Which is scary because in some cases, if a next to kin representative is not found, the assets may end up in unclaimed property in the state of residency.

Each state has different rules on how the administrator is chosen. In most states the order is as followed:

  • Spouse

  • Adopted and biological children

  • Parents

  • Siblings

  • Other blood relations

What happens to my investment account if I don't appoint a beneficiary?

If you don't have a beneficiary on your investment account at the time of death, the assets will be held until further instructions are given from probate court. This can be a long and drawn out process. In most instances, the ruling from the probate court cannot be challenged.

The assets will be distributed as seen fit by the probate judge, and executed by the appointment administrator.

Can I name my child as the beneficiary?

You can name your child a beneficiary on your account, but if your child is a minor there are some additional considerations you need to make. As a minor, the child will not be able to inherit any of the assets without a guardian.

Children who are minors cannot legally consent to contractual agreements.

If you are going to name a child a beneficiary, make sure that you also appoint a guardian to act on their behalf.

What would a Christian Financial Advisor say about the importance of a Will?

In this live lecture, the host, A.B. Ridgeway, MBA, CPWA®️ and Christian Financial Advisor shares a personal story about his childhood fear surrounding the bedtime prayer "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," leading to an important discussion on the importance of financial planning, making sure you don't die without a Will, and protecting the legacy we leave behind.

Ridgway emphasizes the necessity of clear instructions for financial matters to ensure peace and stability for our loved ones after we are gone. He provides practical tips on how to document financial wishes and highlights the potential consequences of neglecting this critical task.

Click below to hear more:

The Power of Instructions With a Will

Instructions are essential in various aspects of life, from taking care of a wound to managing finances. Just like how medical professionals provide care instructions post-surgery, individuals must leave clear financial instructions to ensure their loved ones are well taken care of in their absence.

Facing the Reality of Death- Don't Die Intestate

Ridgway emphasizes that death is an inevitable reality that we must prepare for. Avoiding the topic does not mitigate its impact. Instead, planning for it by leaving clear financial instructions can provide peace of mind and stability for our families.

The Importance Putting Your Will in Writing

Writing down financial instructions is crucial. Ridgeway advises against recording sensitive details like account numbers in insecure locations. Instead, he suggests creating a framework of financial wishes and storing it securely, ensuring that those left behind can access and execute these plans effectively.

Christian man writing his will before he dies

Consequences of Neglecting Financial Planning

Ridgway shares a poignant story of a client who failed to update her beneficiaries, resulting in her son-in-law, whom she disliked, inheriting her estate. This example underscores the potential pitfalls and unintended consequences of neglecting to update and specify financial plans.

Taking the First Steps In Writing Your Will

Even simple instructions can have a significant impact. Ridgway illustrates how a few sentences outlining basic wishes can guide a financial advisor to create a comprehensive plan. This initial step is critical in ensuring that one’s financial legacy aligns with their intentions.


  1. "Death is a reality that we all have to face, and we can't just put our heads under the covers and hope that we will be okay in the morning."

  2. "When you leave good instructions and have an executor follow those instructions as written, you will have more success."

  3. "It isn’t official. It isn’t even pretty. It’s not even financially sound. But it is the first step to getting your finances organized."

This episode serves as a heartfelt reminder of the importance of financial planning, encouraging listeners to take actionable steps to secure their family's future.

retired couple reviewing their investments


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As Christians, we were taught to be good stewards over our tithing and giving to the less fortunate. But when it came to our personal finances and investing we were left clueless on what the Bible says. What does the Bible say about managing debt, leaving a legacy, investing, and planning for your retirement? Mr. Christian Finance answers these and many other questions because we want to teach you how to become rich and righteous!

Meet A.B. Ridgeway:

A.B. Ridgeway with his hands up

A.B. Ridgeway, MBA, CPWA®️ ( is the owner and Christian Financial Advisor with A.B. Ridgeway Wealth Management. With a decade in the finance industry, his goal is to give believers clarity around the most confusing topic in the Bible, money, and tithing. A.B. Ridgeway helps tithing Christians become cheerful givers but unlocking their money-making potential, so they can prosper and be the great stewards of the wealth God has entrusted them with.

*Disclaimer: This communication is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument or investment advisory services. Any information provided has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of any description of securities, markets or developments mentioned. This is strictly for information purposes. We recommend you speak with a professional financial advisor.

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