Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't Have A Will? The State of Wisconsin Has Drafted One For You

When I do a seminar on estate planning, I always make a point of asking participants to raise their hand if they do NOT have a will. Usually half the room puts their hand in the air. At which time I say "guess what, you actually do have a will. If you have not taken the time to draft one, the State of Wisconsin [assuming you are a resident of Wisconsin] has done one for you. And, most likely you could make better decisions they the State".

So, what happens if you live and die in Wisconsin without a will? First, it is called intestate. Second, upon your death, state statutes will control the distribution of your probate property. I've put a link to Wisconsin's intestate succession chart on my pratice's web site.

What does this mean? If you are not legally married and have no children or grandchildren and you die? If your parent(s) survives you, they will inherit your probate estate. If not them, then equally between the next layer of relative. This means that any partner you may have would not receive a thing of probate property.

Estate planning isn't fun, but it is about taking control.

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