What Happens If I Do Not Plan My Estate?
You will leave what is legally known as an “intestate estate”, one in which the deceased has left no instructions. The families of those who fail to plan their estates have a rude surprise awaiting for them – the government will fill in the blanks with its own plan. After debts, probate costs, and taxes are paid, the courts will divide the estate according to the laws of intestate succession.
If you do not plan your estate, you may not know who your beneficiaries are.
If you do not plan your estate and a minor child is entitled to receive an inheritance by law, the court will place the inheritance into a custodial trust.
If you do not plan your estate and you have no spouse or children, most states provide that distributions will be made to your parents. If your parents are in a nursing home or receiving government assistance, who do you think gets the inheritance?
If you do not plan your estate and fail to appoint the personal representative you want to administer it, the court will appoint a personal representative of its own choice for you.
If you do not plan your estate, the personal representative may be forced to pay for an expensive bond to insure the estate.
If you do not plan your estate and you and your spouse both die prematurely, the probate court will appoint the guardian it chooses for your minor children instead of the ones you could have, but failed to name yourselves. In other words, a stranger to the family will get to decide who tucks in your children at night and takes care of all of their other needs.
If you do not plan your estate, the courts will maintain continuing jurisdiction over any inheritance left for your children.