Skip to content

Why Intestacy is Not a Good Option for Your Family

by Webmaster Admin on December 1st, 2021
elderly couple walking

Passing away without an estate plan, or dying intestate, is not a good option for your family.

Although the pandemic encouraged people to consider what would happen at their death, many people believe that they “have time” or are overcome with feelings of superstition when considering planning for the end of their life, as if by planning for death, they invite it. The chilling truth is that nobody has a crystal ball capable of reading the future and most of us have no idea how much time we have before suffering an illness, incapacity, or death.

Unfortunately, an alarmingly high number of people die without an estate plan, which can lead to disastrous consequences for surviving family members.

The excuses for failing to create a plan run the gamut, from being young or childless to being single or refusing to face mortality. Many people believe that if their assets do not exceed a certain amount, then they need not be concerned about an estate plan. 

Whatever the reason, failing to create an estate plan causes chaos for survivors at death, leaving loved ones in the lurch. Inevitably, assets will need to be transferred and, without a clear set of instructions that a comprehensive estate plan provides, clients often leave a mess for those grieving the demise of their loved in.

Dying Without a Will or Trust

Dying without a will or trust is called dying intestate. It is so common that states have created statutes to address the issue of intestacy. 

Wills and trusts address numerous issues, such as who will care for minor children or pets, how and when assets will be distributed, who will oversee the distribution of those assets, and how taxes will be paid. 

If you die without any estate planning documents in place, state statutes will determine how and to whom your assets will be distributed, without any input from you or the loved ones you leave behind. Many states’ intestacy laws give only a portion of assets to the surviving spouse and give the remainder to descendants, without regard for the needs of individual recipients. This includes those who may have special needs, due to an emotional and/or physical disability and who may be receiving governmental benefits.

If you die intestate, then your estate will likely need to go through a court sanctioned probate proceeding. An individual will be required to petition a court to become appointed as the estate administrator, which will give that individual legal authority to collect and distribute your assets.

That individual likely will need to retain an attorney to understand and navigate the complex court system. A judge will need to oversee the many steps involved in this public probate process. The court will issue Letters of Administration that give the executor the legal authority to marshal the assets of a decedent’s estate. 

If disagreements occur among family members or beneficiaries regarding who should serve as personal representative, then the judge will make that decision and could appoint a person completely unrelated to the decedent. Imagine, a stranger and members of the public having full access to your personal financial affairs and that a stranger being paid out of your assets to give your property to people whom you did not select. There is something incredibly unsettling about that scenario.

Utilizing a Living Trust

By contacting a competent estate planning attorney, you can accomplish your wealth transfer planning goals, keep your estate out of probate, by utilizing a Living Trust. As part of the estate planning process, your attorney will guide you through the pitfalls of failing to plan, and provide you with suggestions and recommendations about the legal documents necessary to accomplish your estate planning goals. 

Most people feel a sense of accomplishment and relief after implementing their estate plan. Creating an estate plan allows you to determine who will care minor children, how and when your assets will be distributed to children, who will control those distributions, the criteria for making distributions of your assets, and the amount of distributions which you desire to make to specific individuals, charities, schools, or museums. 

A properly designed comprehensive estate plan can prevent disputes among beneficiaries and provide probate avoidance, and tax saving opportunities for your family. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can determine who will care for your minor children and what will happen to your children, as well as who will be appointed to care for your pets, in the event of your passing.

Dying without a Will or a Trust can plague your family for many years after your demise. Therefore, it is vitally important to undertake the task of establishing your estate plan before it’s too late. 

Financial challenges, including delayed distribution of your assets, and unnecessary stress for your family, are just a few of the outcomes for your family if you die intestate. Avoid the tragedy of intestacy by creating a set of instructions to decide how you want your property to be distributed , upon your passing, otherwise known as an estate plan. 

From → Articles

Comments are closed.