Q: In a recent column of yours regarding death of a female homeowner who died without a valid will, you stated that if she had a spouse the house would be divided between her spouse and any children.

Why wouldn’t it go completely to the spouse? Does this differ by state law?

A: State laws differ on the distribution of an estate when there isn’t a will. In some states, the entire estate may go to the spouse, but more commonly it is divided between the spouse and children.

For information on what will happen to your estate if you die without a will, please see www.mystatewill.com. But the easy way to get around this is to write and execute a valid will, or do some serious estate planning. I recommend you do both.

Nov. 12, 2008.