Every adult should have at least a rudimentary estate plan in place; yet, over half of all Americans do not. This is the case despite most of those without a plan acknowledging the need for one. Often, failing to understand why an estate plan is so important is the problem. To help you understand the importance of creating at least a basic estate plan, the Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC explain what happens if you die without a Will in Vermont.
Last Will and Testament Basics
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows the Testator (the person creating the Will) to communicate his/her final wishes regarding assets owned by the Testator at the time of death. Although you may not realize it, there are several different types of Wills a Testator may choose from when creating a Will, the most basic of which is referred to as a Simple Will. Even a simple Will, however, can accomplish a great deal, starting with ensuring that the Testator does not leave behind an intestate estate.
Dying Intestate in Vermont
In legal terms, if you leave behind a valid Will you are said to leave behind a “testate” estate. Conversely, if you fail to execute a Will prior to your death, you leave behind an “intestate” estate. If you leave an intestate estate behind, you are effectively telling the State of Vermont that you want the state to decide what happens to your estate assets when you are gone.
You may not think you have enough of an estate to worry about how it is distributed; however, almost everyone owns at least some estate assets when they die. More importantly, the monetary value of your assets is not always what is truly important. Whether your estate is modest or excessive, don’t you want the opportunity to decide what happens to the assets you do own – and worked hard to obtain – when you die? Moreover, do you really want your family heirlooms to be sold in an estate sale or given to someone who does not reassure them as you do? If the Massachusetts intestate succession laws dictate how your estate is distributed, only close family members are likely to receive assets from your estate – and you do not get to decide which ones they are nor what assets they receive. Specifically, the Vermont intestate succession laws dictate that your estate be distributed as follows, depending on who you leave behind:
- . Your children inherit all your assets.
- . Your spouse inherits everything.
- . Your spouse inherits everything.
- . Your spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property. Your spouse may also have a right to household goods, and other specific types of assets such as vessels, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles. Your descendants inherit everything else.
- . Your parents inherit everything.
- . Your siblings inherit all assets.
The Vermont intestate succession laws dictate that more distant family members will inherit nothing from your estate nor will friends or charities that are important to you. The best way to prevent that from happening is to ensure that you execute a Last Will and Testament.
Contact Essex Junction Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you have questions or concerns about estate planning, or you are ready to create your Last Will and Testament, contact the experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.
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