Nobody really looks forward to writing a will, considering that writing a will forces you to consider, in plain detail, the reality of your death and how life will continue when you are gone. It’s a difficult topic for anybody to approach, which explains why so many people neglect to write a will and end up passing away without any legal documentation to determine the direction of their estate and other belongings of value. “We see this happen all the time” says Brian Masoff of North Tampa Law Group, a Wesley Chapel estate planning attorney.
As the debacle with the late superstar Prince’s estate is currently proving to the world, dying in the possession of valuable things but no will can make matters extremely complicated. Here are just a few of the ways that chaos is likely to ensue if death occurs without a will in place.
Unmarried Couples Get Nothing
If a couple is living together but not legally recognized as married, and one person dies without a will, the other partner is not entitled to inherit any property. For example, if John and Stacy have been a loyal couple for 15 years and have lived together for 9 years, but never felt the need to formally get married, and Stacy dies of a sudden health problem without having first made a will, John is not allowed to legally gain any of Stacy’s property. Instead, it would go to Stacy’s relatives, regardless of her relationship with them.
Married Couples with Children From Former Relation
If a husband passes away and his wife survives him, and all of his children are also her biological children, then without a will in place the husband’s entire estate is passed to his wife. However, if that husband had any children from a previous spouse or partner, then his wife would receive no more than half of his estate, with the other portion going to his surviving children from his past relationship. Though it may not necessarily be a bad thing for his children to receive some of his assets, this can be devastating to the wife if she was relying upon or expecting certain financial benefits.
These two examples are just a small sample set to demonstrate the difficulty that is likely to occur when no will is in place. This is why it is so vital that all adults, regardless of their age or their current health, draw up a will with an attorney.