What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
More than half of Americans are believed to die without a will. No will was recently again brought up for discussion due to the death of the musician, Prince. He had an estate exceeding $300 million plus. Suddenly, wills and estate planning are topics everyone wants to learn about. Prince’s sister appears to be the beneficiary but there is a guy in California claiming a $1 billion interest in Prince’s estate. For the typical person, the worst consequence is relatives fighting for control. Another issue is spouses from subsequent marriages being pushed aside by adult children. What makes Prince’s lack of a will surprising is that things he valued, charitable giving and control of his music, may be lost in probate. For most of us, the issues are a blended family, children with special needs or the exclusion of a child as a beneficiary.
So What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
If you die intestate (without a will), Florida’s laws of descent and distribution determine who receives your property. These laws vary from state to state, but in Florida the distribution would be to your spouse and children, or if none, your parents then your siblings and then to other family members. A state’s particular plan reflects the legislature’s guess as to how people would dispose of their estates and builds in protections for certain beneficiaries, particularly spouses and minor children. Florida’s plan may or may not reflect your actual wishes. A will allows you to alter Florida’s default plan to suit your personal preferences. It also permits you to exercise control over a myriad of personal decisions that Florida’s default provisions cannot address.
Do you really need a will? YES!!!
Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. No one likes to think about death or health problems, a will legally protects your spouse, children, and assets. Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept unexpected death or disability as part of life are common reasons for not having the proper documents. Sometimes the realization comes too late. It came too late for Prince.