A lot of people think estate plans are like life insurance. If you don’t have any dependents, why do you need it? The truth is, people with no spouse or children need estate plans more than anyone.
That’s because, without at least a valid will, your property and assets will be transferred to the person the state of Kentucky decides is your next of kin. Without a spouse or children, your next of kin is your parents, then your siblings, then more distant relatives.
If the state can’t immediately find an heir, it will make reasonable efforts to do so — but that can be costly and waste your estate. Consider what happened to one estate in New York. When the court couldn’t find the next of kin, it appointed three lawyers to act as guardians for the missing heir and perform a search. The three lawyers, their spouses and a court employee spent much of the $670,000 estate ostensibly in search of the heir in Puerto Rico.
Finally, if the state can’t find a relative to receive your estate, everything you own and care about will become the property of the state of Kentucky.
Wouldn’t you rather choose who receives your estate?
The reality is, any of us could die at any time. Death doesn’t wait until we have the proper plans in place. When you do die, wouldn’t you rather your money and property went to a friend, loved one or charity?
To ensure that happens, you need at least a will. To get started, you will need to inventory your property so you’ll know what will be included in your estate. Then, begin writing down the names and contact information of the people or organizations who should receive bequests, and what those bequests ought to be. Finally, designate an alternate beneficiary in case your chosen beneficiary dies before you do. Your estate planning lawyer can use this information to create a valid will.
While you’re writing your will, you may want to consider some other standard estate planning documents. For example, a power of attorney for finances and another one for healthcare can designate a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. There are also a number of trusts that might be beneficial in your situation.
In the U.S., more than half of all adults have no will or estate plan in place. Yet estate planning is straightforward and relatively inexpensive. Take a few moments today to make an appointment with an estate planning lawyer. Leave behind the legacy you choose, not one chosen by state intestacy laws.