A lot of people know that they should take action to put an estate plan in place, but they procrastinate for one reason or another. It stays on the back burner for years, and the years turn into decades. In far too many instances, these individuals pass away without ever getting around to it.
When this happens, the condition of intestacy is the result. Under these circumstances, there is a government mechanism in place to respond, and we will look at the process here.
Intestate Estate Administration
The probate court presides over probate estate matters. If you were to die intestate, the court would appoint a personal representative to act as the administrator. This is necessary, but would you feel comfortable with the court making this choice on your behalf?
Blended families are not uncommon, and people are not always on the same page with regard to the way they would view the distribution of an estate. Even if there was never any blending, family members do not always see eye to eye on important matters.
Simply put, the individual that is chosen to act as the personal representative may not be the person that you would have selected yourself.
The personal representative that is empowered by the court would be charged with the responsibility of identifying and inventorying the assets. When the position is thrust upon someone suddenly without any input from the decedent, this can be a challenging task.
After the final debts are paid and everything is in order to the court’s satisfaction, the personal representative distributes assets in accordance with the state’s intestate succession rules.
In many if not most cases, the bequests will be distributed in a manner that is not consistent with true wishes of the decedent. We have offices in Vermont and New York, and the rules are very similar in these two states with some minor variations.
To provide an example, the succession laws in both states make the parents the sole heir of an unmarried person who dies without any surviving children. Some people would be perfectly okay with this arrangement, but there are many that would not.
You may be very close with your sister, and have no relationship with your very wealthy father. This type of thing is not entirely uncommon.
If you had no children or parents living but you did have siblings, your siblings would be in line for inheritances under the succession laws. What if you are tight with one of your brothers who is not well off financially, and your other brother has done you wrong over the years?
These are couple of examples, but there are many other scenarios that can exist.
Attend a Free Webinar
As you can see, there are some very compelling reasons why you should avoid intestacy. If you would like to learn more about the importance of estate planning, we are offering some great learning opportunities.
Our attorneys have traditionally conducted seminars to pass along important information. In light of the dangers that are presented by the novel coronavirus, we have transitioned to webinars. You can get all the same great information without leaving the comfort of your own home, so it is a win-win situation.
To see the schedule, visit our webinar page. When you identify the session that you would like to attend, follow the simple instructions to register.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you are already convinced that it is time to put an estate plan in place, we are here to help. Once again, we have adapted to the unusual circumstances, so we are offering consultations through video and teleconferencing.
Personalized attention is the key to a well constructed estate plan, because every case is different. This is exactly what you will receive when you work with our firm.
To set the wheels in motion, you can reach us by phone in Albany, New York at 518-389-6020, and the number in Essex Junction, Vermont is 802-879-7133. If you would like to reach out electronically, simply fill out the contact form on this website.