Some people decide not to have a Will because they expect to spend everything before they die.
While one can plan for this, sometimes death comes unexpectedly.
There might be a pandemic. Or, more prosaically, one might have a car accident.
In addition, sometimes people expect to run through their money (and then some) before dying because they expect to need long term care. While long term care can easily cost $100,000 to $120,000 per year, sometimes people don’t need the high level of care that they expect, and sometimes people die earlier than they expect, even if they do need a high level of care near the end.
Also, many people are able to remain in their homes until they die, which often means that, while they may be short on liquid assets, they still have an asset worth several hundred thousand dollars to be distributed after they die.
Without a Will, the personal representative or executor will need to post a bond when doing a probate, in most cases. This can equal or exceed the cost of having a Will prepared in some cases.
Without a Will, assets will also go to the decedent’s nearest relatives, rather than to the persons or entities the decedent may have preferred.
It is also important to realize that the law and the individual may differ on the question of who is a close relative.
A step child who has not been adopted is not a relative, even if the person raised the child, and maintained a good relationship for 50 years. A blood child who has not been adopted by someone else IS a relative, even if there has been no contact for decades.
The same is true of siblings and of step siblings, and of blood (or adopted) grandchildren and the step siblings of those grandchildren.
In addition, as outlined in other articles, when a person has children with someone other than their current spouse, the person’s children (ALL of the person’s children, not just the non-joint children) will receive half of the person’s probate assets without a Will, and the person’s spouse will receive the other half.
Even if a person is content with the provisions of law as to where his or her property will go if he or she dies without a Will, given that the cost of a bond may have to be offset against the cost of doing a Will, one should consider whether it might be best to do a Will (and other estate planning documents) after all, in order to ensure the result that the person really wants.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
Wills, Guardians & Elder Law
- Wills, Trusts, and Probates
- Guardians and Conservators
- Elder Law
- When Should You See An Elder Law Attorney
- Substitute Decision Makers
- Overview of Guardianships, Trusts, and Health Care Documents
- Finances and Business
- Health Care Documents
- Guardianships and Conservatorships