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 comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.