Who Do You Love?
One pleasure in life is the people we choose to love and care for. Our parents, our spouse, our partner, our children, our siblings, best friends and so on. The second step of careful estate planning is identifying the people we most want to provide for even after we’re gone. The reality is we don’t need our assets anymore, so who should have them?
If you fail to plan or if you believe the “state” is best equipped to make choices regarding your assets here’s what is likely to happen to them after your untimely (or timely) death.
In both cases in order to make these transfers happen an “intestate estate” will be opened. This is a case filed in the probate division of the your county courthouse. The court will make a determination of your heirs and assets and divide them up accordingly.
Now suppose your partner has a lovely child whom you have raised since infancy, but you never married your partner nor adopted the child. For all intents and purposes you three are a family. However, if you die intestate the state will determine that you have no lineal descendants and your assets will pass to your parents or siblings. If your wish would have been to provide for your partner and this child, it just backfired.
Properly identifying the people you want to provide for, and having contingency plans also, is crucial to successful estate planning. An added benefit is catching a glimpse as to how you will go on even when you don’t!
Typically, there will be multiple tiers of potential beneficiaries of your assets. It might start with your spouse, followed by children and their children. A person might also identify classes of people to received from the estate in the event the “main line” no longer exists. Such classes could be siblings, cousins, or other extended family.
©February 3, 2014. Kirsten Schroeder Larsen, P.A.