Drafting your Last Will and Testament – You May Delay, but Time Will Not

 By Rose Wilson

You may have heard stories in the news recently about Roman Blum, the multi-millionaire from New York who died without a will, leaving an estate of $40 million without any named beneficiaries.  Today, almost a year and a half from the date of his death, it is possible that the money will stay in the hands of the state government as none of his heirs have been found.

Many people procrastinate when it comes to completing their estate planning, but what happens if you die without a will?  A common misconception is that the government will receive your assets.  In reality, the answer to this question depends on the “intestacy” law of the state in which you reside at the time of your death.  To die “intestate” means to die without a will.  When this occurs, the identity of your heirs will be determined by state law, and intestacy laws vary from state to state.

In the state of Georgia, the intestacy law generally provides for distribution of the estate in the following order.  If you are married and have no children at the time of your death, your spouse will receive all of your assets.  If you are married with children at the time of your death, then your spouse and your children share the estate in equal shares, although your spouse will receive at least one-third of the estate.  If you die unmarried and without descendants, then your property will pass in equal shares to your nearest living relatives (parents, then siblings if your parents are not alive, then your nieces and nephews, and continuing out along the family lines according to degree of kinship).

In the event that you die intestate and no heirs can be identified, then your estate will remain with the government.  The scenario in which an individual has no heirs seems unlikely because one must have a living relative somewhere on the planet.  The real trouble comes in identifying the heirs, but cases where no heirs can be identified are uncommon.

What if your heir under state law is your third cousin twice removed, whom you barely know, and you prefer that your money go to friends or charity?  Then you must sign a will to make that happen.  Whether you’re a multi-millionaire like Roman Blum, or simply an average Joe, a last will and testament may be one of the most important legal documents you will ever prepare.  Not only does it provide for the disposition of your assets in the manner that you desire, it can provide numerous other benefits to your estate beneficiaries, such as asset protection, tax savings, and more.

Explore posts in the same categories: Asset Protection, Charitable Giving, Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Estate Tax, Gift Taxes, Income Tax, Tax, Tax Returns, Trusts, Wealth Planning

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One Comment on “Drafting your Last Will and Testament – You May Delay, but Time Will Not”


  1. I drafted a will for a client and his wife 2 months ago, and he just died yesterday. When he called me, he had no will, yet he was quite sick and I believe very much in denial. I think it was only at his family’s urging that he ultimately had a will made. We drafted husband and wife wills pretending that the two of them had equal chances of administering each other’s will. A complete fiction.

    For the same reason we think are car and house are worth more than they are, and that are kids are more special than other kids, we believe we will never die, even when we have a fatal illness. That thinking is simply untrue and causes us to make poor decisions that hurt our family.


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