Tag Archives: dying without a will

Robert Holmes a Court’s big mistake

robert holmes a courtHis mistake is one people continue to make throughout the world.  They don’t make a will and die intestate.  About 50% of people say that they don’t have the time, don’t think they need one, don’t know how to get started, it’s too gruesome a topic to think about, they’re not going to die yet….or offer up many other excuses.

Robert Holmes a Court, who had built a $2 billion empire in Australia in the 1980’s, died suddenly at age 53 without a will.  Legend has it that he carried a will around in his briefcase for years…unsigned.  Regardless of whether this is true or not, what is a fact is that, because he did not have a valid will,  the legal wrangling to settle his estate took almost 20 years to resolve, seriously straining family relations in the process.

Two other blogs we found also discuss some of the problems that can occur if you don’t take the time to make a will.

http://www.trishparr.com/are-you-a-modern-day-scrooge/

http://www.lancasterlawblog.com/2015/10/articles/estate-planning/second-marriage-and-intestacy-dying-without-a-will/

There are two facts you can’t change:

1) You ARE going to die.

2) If you don’t have a will, the government will decide what happens to your estate.

If you have a $2 billion empire like Robert Holmes a Court, it may take you awhile to draft a will and the other documents you will need to protect your assets and ensure that they will be distributed the way you want them to be.  If you have an estate that is a little smaller, a simple will can be drawn up and executed very quickly.

Don’t let the government make important decisions about your estate for you.  Make the time and get your will prepared now.

For more information about dying intestate and will preparation, go to DieSmart.com.

Bobbi Kristina had no will – what happens now?

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, died on Sunday, 7/26/2015.  She was only 22 years old and probably had no plans to die so young.  She had done nothing to prepare for death and had no will.

When Whitney Houston died in 2012, she left her entire estate to her daughter.  That estate was worth more than $20 million.  Because of her grandmother’s fear that Bobbi wouldn’t be able to handle so much money at such a young age, she challenged the will and a court ruled that the money could be given to Bobbi in increments.  Although the bulk of her inheritance was not supposed to be given to her until her 30th birthday,  she had received approximately $2 million when she turned 21.

Her father is her next of kin and so, according to the law, will inherit the money she had already received.  However, since he was divorced from her mother, I’m sure Whitney Houston would not have wanted any of her money to go to him.  The balance will probably go to Whitney’s mother, Cissy, who is 81 and her two brothers, Michael 53 and Gary 57 since they are Whitney’s closest living relatives.

Because of the number of people who would like to receive some of these millions, this case will probably go through a long court process before anything is definitively settled.

Is this what Bobbi Kristina would have wanted?  We’ll never know.

Have you written a will, designating what you want to happen to your estate when you die?  Do you want the law to make the decision for you?  You could die suddenly at age 22 from what may or may not be an accident like Bobbi Kristina or at 90 or 95 from a  heart attack or lingering illness.  If the answer to either of these questions is no, you should draft a will immediately and name those people who you want to receive your assets as well as things meaningful to family members like your mother’s jewelry and your dad’s artwork.

You can find a form for a simple will on the web or, for a more sizeable estate, can meet with an attorney to have one drafted soon.  Otherwise, in addition to the law deciding for you, it will make things harder for your surviving heirs.

For more information, go to www.diesmart.com.

Dying Intestate Ohio

Married with no children
If there are no children or lineal descendants, the entire estate goes to the spouse.
Married with child or children
If there is a spouse and one child or its lineal descendants surviving, the spouse get the first $60,000 if he or she is the natural or adoptive parent of the child, or the first $20,000 if he or she is not the natural or adoptive parent. In addition, the spouse gets one half of the balance of the estate. The remainder goes to the child or lineal descendants. If there is more than one child or their lineal descendants surviving, and if the spouse is the natural or adoptive parent of at least one of the children, he or she receives the first $60,000 plus one third of the balance of the estate. If the spouse is not the natural or adoptive parent of any of the children, the amount is $20,000 plus one third of the balance of the estate. In both cases, the remainder of the estate goes to the children or the lineal descendants of any deceased child.
Order of estate distribution if no spouse survives or person is single:
1) children or their lineal descendants
2) parents of the deceased
3) siblings or their lineal descendants
4) grandparents
5) lineal descendants of the deceased grandparents (i.e. aunts, uncles, cousins)
6) other next of kin
7) stepchildren or their lineal descendants
No surviving relatives
The estate goes to the state of Ohio
State link
http://tinyurl.com/cmduzm

Dying Intestate Illinois

Married with no children
The entire estate goes to the surviving spouse.
Married with child or children
One half of the entire estate goes to the spouse and the other half to the decedent’s descendants.
No spouse survives but there are other relatives
The estate will be distributed in this order of priority:1) decedent’s descendants2) parent, brother, sister or descendant of the decedent or of brother or sister

3) grandparent or descendant of a grandparent – one half of the estate to the decedent’s maternal grandparents or their descendants and the other half to the decedent’s paternal grandparents or their descendants

4) great grandparents or their descendants – one half of the estate to the decedent’s paternal side and the other half to the decedent’s maternal side

5) the nearest kin of the decedent

Single person/ widow or widower
The estate will be distributed in the order shown below:
Order of estate distribution if decedent not married
The estate will be distributed in this order of priority:1) decedent’s descendants2) parent, brother, sister or descendant of the decedent or of brother or sister

3) grandparent or descendant of a grandparent – one half of the estate to the decedent’s maternal grandparents or their descendants and the other half to the decedent’s paternal grandparents or their descendants

4) great grandparents or their descendants – one half of the estate to the decedent’s paternal side and the other half to the decedent’s maternal side

5) the nearest kin of the decedent

No surviving relatives
The real estate reverts to the county in which it is located; all other personal property becomes the property of the county in which the decedent was a resident or becomes the property of the state of Illinois and should be delivered to the State Treasurer.
State link
http://tinyurl.com/cy8cjy

Dying Without a Will

WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WILL OR A LIVING TRUST?

If you die without having created a will or a trust, you are considered to have died intestate.  In this situation, the state has a created a default will for you.  The default will determines who the state appoints to manage your affairs after you die and the default will determines who will inherit your probate assets.

Upon your death the following will occur if you die without a will:

  • A family member will inventory the assets of the deceased and list what the decedent owned and what the decedent owes.
  • The inventory will include a list of all property with a title.  Based upon the method of title, the person taking the inventory will place the assets in either the automatic inheritance bucket, the trust bucket, or the probate bucket.
    • Property with automatic inheritance rights will automatically be transferred to the named beneficiaries.
    • Trust assets will be managed by the designated successor trustee.
    • The remaining probate property will be distributed according to the applicable state law of intestacy.  These are laws which describe who inherits your probate property when you fail to leave a will.
      • Under most state laws of intestacy, the probate assets are divided among a surviving spouse and children of the decedent.  However, if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, then the intestate assets are distributed to next of kin.  In most states, stepchildren have no right to inherit.  If there are no surviving relatives, the entire probate estate may go to the state.
  • The inventory will also include a list of all property without a title, i.e., your jewelry, your furniture, cash, art, and your digital assets.  The estate representative will determine how to distribute the personal property to your beneficiaries.
  • An estate representative, sometimes called an administrator or a personal representative, will be appointed by the court to administer your intestate probate estate.  Most state laws contain a preference that a surviving spouse, and then surviving children, be appointed to serve as the administrator of the intestate estate.
  • The estate representative will decide if probate is required and whether the estate needs to follow procedures for a small estate, a surviving spouse, or a normal probate process.
  • The court appointed estate representative has the same responsibility as someone you appoint as an executor in your will or the successor trustee in your living trust, except that they are not guided by a will or a trust; their actions are governed by state laws only.  ibutton: State Intestate Succession Statutes