You may not have an estate worth $300 million like Prince, but having a Last Will and Testament and plan in place makes good sense regardless of the value of your assets. As we watch things unfold for Prince Rogers Nelson, with a multitude of heirs and unknown future royalty values, there will likely be a rain of pleadings filed with the Court and enough years of litigation to follow making even the most enduring of family members see purple.
If you pass away without a Last Will and Testament, you are considered to die “intestate” and state law will determine who will receive most of your assets. This distribution may not be to the people you want, in the shares you want them to receive, or in the manner you desire the assets be used. People mistakenly believe if you are married, all assets will automatically pass to your spouse. In Indiana, this is not the case as parents and children have certain rights. The statutory division of assets when you die intestate becomes more complicated if you have children from a prior union, have children with a second spouse, or if you have no spouse or children.
When minor children are involved, passing away without a properly drafted Will results in your child’s share of the assets being managed by an individual appointed by the court, loss of the right to have input as to who will raise children in your absence, and how money will be used for your child’s benefit. Of additional concern is when a child is 18 years old, the assets will be distributed outright to your child to spend as he or she pleases. Even when a child is a young adult, they may not be prepared to manage money and may need oversight, restrictions and guidance, all of which an estate plan can provide.
While there are hundreds of additional reasons to have your estate planning in place and up to date, the primary reasons are to:
- Make sure assets will go to your chosen loved ones in the amount and manner you want them to receive,
- Have input as to matters involving your children,
- Provide for a quick and orderly distribution of assets (including business interests),
- Minimize inheritance taxes, and
- Make provisions for charitable organizations if you are so inclined.
Some fairly straightforward planning will also leave your family with a positive legacy and memories of you to cherish.
For additional information, please contact attorney Shannon Frank at sfrank@KDDK.com or (812) 423-3183, or contact any member of the KDDK Estate Planning practice team or Trust and Probate Administration practice team.