By David Baron
For many of us, the primary motivation for seeking the help of an estate planning attorney is so that a formal Will can be created.
Why Wills are Important
Wills are important for a number of reasons. They facilitate your appointment of the individuals who will care for young children should you die before they are grown.
Wills can also safeguard your business enterprise and provide for smooth succession to a designated heir or partner. Finally, the last Will and Testament outlines how your assets will be divided and distributed.
Passing Away Without A Last Will and Testament
Everyone ought to have a Will before they die. Otherwise, distribution of assets will be a function of state law, not the intentions or desires of the deceased. Each state has its own laws regarding so-called intestate distribution, though marital status and number of living children at the time of death will always be key factors.
Single, No Will
Under such circumstances, parents are first to inherit assets. Should they already have passed on, assets will go to the deceased individual’s siblings. If there are living children, assets are divided in equal part among them.
Descendants who are married at the time of their death pose a more complicated situation in terms of asset distribution. It may be that a surviving husband or wife would receive a third to a half of the assets, while the remainder is divided equally between living children. When no offspring exist, surviving spouses may inherit the full tally of assets or be required to divide them with the siblings or parents of the deceased party.
The bottom line is that allowing the state to control the distribution of assets after death is never an ideal option, and doing so often results in rancorous family disputes and litigation. A Palm Springs estate planning attorney can help develop a Will and Testament that makes intentions clear and division of assets upon death a much smoother process.
Estate planning professionals can also help craft living trusts, durable powers of attorney for medical decisions and legal powers of attorney as a means to avoid costly and time-consuming probate processes and also to ensure that all wishes concerning healthcare and treatment matters are followed.