Something that some people don’t think of relates to money passing to their children.
If you do not have a Will and are not married at the time you die, your children WILL get your assets (if you have children).
Even if you are married when you pass on, if you do not have a Will, and if you have children who are not also children of your spouse, your children WILL get a part of your assets when you pass on. All of your children will share in this, including the children you have with your current spouse.
Of course, if you and your spouse both die, then if you do not have a Will, everything you own will also go to your children, regardless how old they are.
This presents two problems.
First, of course, if your children are under 18, your children will need a conservator to be appointed by the court to handle their money.
It can be expensive to establish a conservatorship in court, which will need to be done.
It can also be expensive to maintain the conservatorship, with annual reports due to the court, and with lawyer bills arising from these reports, and even with bills from the conservator (unless the conservator is a family member who serves without pay).
Second, when each child turns 18, that child will get his or her full share, free of any restrictions, to spend as they please on cars and chasing members of the opposite sex (or the same sex if that’s their preference).
Also, of course, the associates of a child who is not really mature enough, even though he or she is above the age of 18, can also lead the child down the primrose path, and help them to spend their inheritance in what may not be the wisest of ways.
With a Will, this age of distribution can easily be extended to age 25. With a testamentary trust (a trust that is set out in a Will, and that only comes into effect if a beneficiary is under a certain age when you die), you can extend the time of distribution to any age you choose, with interim payments at certain ages, or for specified purposes like education, the purchase of a house, etc.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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