Monday, November 19, 2012

What If You Do Not Have A Will?

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Show of hands, who does not have a will?  This is a routine question I ask during the many seminars I offer on the basics of wills, trusts and probate.  Sheepishly hands are raised.  To which I offer -- Guess what, you actual DO have a will.  If you have not taken control of the situation and written one yourself, the State of Wisconsin has done one for you.  And it is located in State Statues.

Called intestacy, when a person dies without a will the distribution of his or her probate property (meaning assets that do not have a beneficiary form or other label), is governed by state law.  In many situations this distribution may be the sames as the person would have said if they had done a will.  And in many situations it is not the same.  For example, property may pass to your nearest living relative instead of the person you are spending your life with but are not legally married for some reason.  Or, if you and your spouse are killed in a car accident, your assets may go to your parents (assuming you have no living children) even though they don't need the money.

Doing a will is not a fun event.  Last week a during an initial meeting a client got up, grabbed the candy jar from the waiting area and brought it to the table saying "I need some brought me down".  Yes, I did, and that is my job.  These are hard questions, but important ones.  If you die, where do you want your property to go?  And if that person has died?  If you don't put it into a will, state statute controls.

Do you agree with the State's assumption.  Here is Wisconsin's intestacy distribution.

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not an attorney.   Please consult with a licensed attorney in your state for advice specific to your situation.

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