Failing To Do Your Estate Plan

FAILING TO DO YOUR ESTATE PLAN RESULTS IN THE STATE INTESTACY LAW DETERMINING YOUR BENEFICIARIES

A woman is hospitalized with cancer and other ailments, and Timothy Rice meets with the woman and her sister at the hospital. The hospitalized woman is able to tell me that she would like me to draft a Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive and will for her which appoints her sister as financial agent, health care representative and executor. The woman is either unwilling or unable to decide on alternate agents and executors or how she wishes to divide her estate. Unfortunately, the hospitalized woman passed away shortly after our meeting and before she could fully communicate her intentions for her estate or sign any legal documents.

Because she died without a Will, her sister, as her closest next-of-kin, was required to not only make application to become Administrator of the estate, but also, by law, was required to pay premiums for an insurance bond to serve in that capacity. The bond requirement would have been avoided with a properly drafted Will. More significantly, the state intestacy law – which applies when one dies without a will – caused this estate to pass to nephews and nieces whom the decedent had not seen in many years, and with whom she had no ongoing relationship.

Had the woman been proactive in meeting with an estate attorney before she became too ill to plan and sign estate planning documents, her estate would have passed to those relatives to whom she was closest or to persons of her choosing. Unfortunately, her estate plan was a failure because she failed to plan.