Over 2,500,000 people die in the United States each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than half die without wills or other estate planning documents, according to Lexis/Nexis. That’s well over one million people a year. Without a will or other estate plan, their assets must be disbursed according to the intestacy laws.
Under the intestacy laws generally, all assets go to a decedent’s spouse; if no spouse, to children (even at 18!! —see accompanying Robin Williams article, http://www.foslaw.com/news-views/dont-get-it-half-right/); if no children, to siblings, and on and on. This allocation is rigid and automatic.
The intestacy laws ignore a distribution’s tax consequences. Equally, if not more importantly, they ignore the decedent’s wishes.
Intestacy laws, for example, may dismiss the step–children of the decedent’s second marriage. They won’t care if the decedent promised his niece money for college. They’ll pay no mind to the decedent’s unfulfilled intent to leave money to his favorite museum.
An estate plan’s protection extends far beyond its creator. Surviving family members, friends, colleagues and charities all suffer when a person dies without a will or other estate plan.
So, protect yourself and your family. Turn your wishes into action. Contact your FOS estate planning attorney to help you create a workable and enforceable estate plan.