No one likes to consider that their life might end. It’s easier just to continue living day to day, solving the minor problems that come up, and hoping the future takes care of itself. Unfortunately, every life eventually comes to an end, and without a will in place to help with your succession of property, your family members may wait years to be able to claim what is theirs. The best thing a father or mother can do for their family is to plan for what will happen after they’re gone. In this article, we’ll discuss how a will can benefit your family and what will happen if you die without having a will in place.
Do I Need A Will?
You may think a will is just for the extremely wealthy, but everyone can benefit from estate planning regardless of class. Wills are to help the important people in your life receive your bequeathments after you die, so anyone who owns a house, a car, or jewelry should consider writing a will. Parents and grandparents, in particular, should draft a will as soon as possible. When someone dies without any estate planning, the state must make up its own plan. The process can be long and arduous and may not reflect your interests.
What Happens If I Die Without A Will?
As we said above, estates with no planning must be divvied up by the state. Your possessions and finances may be tied up in the courts for years before your loved ones receive what they are owed. Aretha Franklin died in 2018 with no Will and an estate worth an estimated 80 million dollars. Her four sons did not receive their mother’s money until the summer of 2022. And that’s a case of a very high-profile celebrity with a great deal of money. Rest assured, the process could be even longer for a regular person.
In Mississippi, if you die without a will or other form of estate planning in place, your property becomes what is known as “intestate succession.” This is a way of endowing all of your property and finances equally among your living heirs. In practice, the state has made a will for you, which may not be the one you want.
Your heirs may fight for years over what they deem to be their fair share. Without any input from you, the process can create rifts in your family as they wait to gain possession of your assets through a lengthy probate period. And instead of a trusty friend or family lawyer controlling the distribution of your estate, all control is left to a chancery court, and all items are distributed according to Mississippi law instead of the wishes of the deceased. This can all be avoided by simply giving official notice of how you would like your possessions distributed after you die. A will is the most simplistic version of estate planning, but it’s indispensable.
A Living Trust
Another form of estate planning is a living trust. These are wishes you set up in advance that give specific details about your property and loved ones after you die. Unlike wills, a living trust can contain language such as:
- “I wish billy to receive a monthly stipend of $5,000.”
- “I wish Katie to receive $100,000, but only after she turns 18.”
- “I wish Bobby to receive $300,000, but he can only spend it on college tuition.”
Stipulations like these are why living trusts are the perfect way to ensure your wishes are carried out after you die. The property you put under your living trust avoids intestate succession and probate court entirely. Instead, your property is delivered to your loved ones as soon as possible and under your specific orders.
Why Don’t People Plan Their Estate?
So if wills and living trusts perfectly reflect your wishes, why do many Americans still avoid making them? The answer comes down to many reasons that make the average person uncomfortable with estate planning.
- They’re too expensive: Retaining a lawyer and filing your court fees can be a bit pricey. There are DIY versions of estate planning online, but those can be very confusing to someone without legal training. Regardless, the money you spend making your will is money you are spending on your loved ones. It’s worth the investment.
- I don’t like thinking of my own death: No one does. It’s a scary thing to think about. Again though, you are doing this for your family’s future. It’s worth the discomfort.
- I thought wills were only for wealthy people: As discussed above, estate planning is for everyone. Your family will always benefit from you planning for their futures.
If you are ready to start thinking about your own estate planning, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797. It’s never too early to start.