What do Aretha Franklin, Prince, Bob Marley, Sonny Bono, Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Brown have in common? As hard as it might be to believe they all died without a will. No matter how large or small your estate is, leaving it to chance is not the ideal option. A will and basic estate plan will ensure you protect the ones you love.
If you die without a will, it means you have died “intestate.” When this happens, the intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property is distributed upon your death.
For example, in Kentucky if a married women with two children dies intestate, half of her estate will pass to her spouse, and half will be divided equally between the two children (even if this is a third marriage and they were only together for a short time). Individual’s wishes may not match what state law requires for intestate succession. (Imagine your shock when you lose your spouse and have no children and find out that because there is no will half of your deceased spouse’s assets will pass to the parents).
Why have a Will?
- Legal protection – Do you want an officer of the court deciding who gets your money?
- Avoid probate – At least with a will in place, the probate process can usually move more quickly and will be less costly than with no will at all.
- Assign guardianship – A will protects your choice of who takes care of your children and pets.
- Tax implications – You may have more assets than you think, and you’ll want to leave your heirs with as much as possible.
- Peace of mind – If you think family situations can get complicated around the holidays or when it comes to sibling rivalries, just add money, valuable assets, and no estate plan in place to the mix.
The only way to ensure your wishes are carried out is to prepare a will and keep it up-to-date. When major life changes—marriages, divorces, births, deaths, interstate moves—occur, you should review your will and make any necessary changes.
Don’t Delay: Get a Handle on Your Estate with the Help of an Attorney.
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