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Question: Does Having a Will Matter?

Posted on June 2, 2015

There is no law that requires a person.  However, to have a Will, if someone dies without a Will one, then the law will “write” one for them.  The law that we are referring to is called the “Intestacy Statute,” and this law dictates what will happen to a person’s property when they die without a Will.

A common misconception among married couples is that all the property automatically goes to their spouse.  There are many rules which apply involving parents and children of the deceased.  For example, did you know if a married man dies without a Will and is survived by his wife and one or more of his parents, then the wife will only receive a portion of his estate and the rest will go to his parents.

Without a Will, your property will be distributed according to the rules of the Intestacy Statute, which assumes that its rules will fulfill your wishes.  But, the law’s assumptions may be wrong.  The rules of the intestacy statute may not reflect your wishes, which is why it is important to leave instructions in the form of a Will before you die.

As a practical matter, Wills also provide important instructions for the administration of a deceased person’s estate.  A Will generally names a person that you trust to administer your estate, pay any taxes owed, and distribute your property in accordance with your wishes.  Without one, the court will have to appoint someone for you and will most likely require that person to post a bond.

An attorney can provide you with additional information about Wills and other estate planning documents and can prepare a Last Will and Testament for you that will carry out your wishes while minimizing any estate tax implications at the same time.

You must not rely on the above information as an alternative to legal advice from an appropriately qualified attorney. This column does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you may contact our office.


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