The State Has Made Your Will (if you haven't)
The State will make your will for you if you haven't made one for yourself. Each state has different laws directing what will happen to property if a person fails to make their own arrangements. According to Legal Zoom (services at legalzoom.com) among the ten famous people who died without a will are: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, "Sonny" Bono, Swedish Author Stieg Larsson, Pablo Picasso, DJ AM( real name was Adam Goldstein), Michael Jackson, NFL player Steve McNair, Howard Hughes and America's 16th President Abraham Lincoln.
As Legal Zoom states "Famous or not, everyone should have a will. It is simple to do and it saves your family a lot of money and headaches. And, as illustrated by the names above, you're never too young—or too smart or too powerful”—to start your estate planning and formulate a will.
If you move to a different state, please be sure to investigate the inheritance laws of that state. Your state will make assumptions on how to divide your property according to a rigid formula. Your relatives share will be based on how closely they are related to you. Friendly and charitable interests are never included in the state's version of your will.
If no legal heirs are found, your assets become the property of the state.
Extra costs can result if you decide to forego making a will or other plans. When it comes to minor children, the state will try to find a close relative to serve as guardian and someone will be appointed to manage their assets until they reach legal age. These provisions may or may not be as you would have wished.
Fortunately there is no need to rely on the will made by your state. Through a valid will, trust or other arrangement, you can easily decide who will receive your assets; and when.
Your estate can provide for relatives differently or not at all, as you wish. You can decide how minor children are cared for, and how your property is handled.
It is possible to leave a certain amount for charitable use, as percentage of your assets, or only the funds that are left after loved ones have first been provided for.
If you have not already started, probably it makes sense to begin with lists of people in your life and your assets. Then consider the plans you would like to see implemented, next contact an attorney or legal service to have your will or other plans put into the proper legal form.
If you have any general questions, please feel free to contact the AEU Office. However, we are not in a position to provide legal, accounting tax or financial advice. Another good source for much of this information is the Sharpe Group (info at sharpenet.com)
Scott Walton - AEU Fundraising Chair