I am not sure why someone would not have a will in today’s day and age, but it happens more often than you might think. Why would you want your family members fighting over your assets after your death? Wouldn’t you rather everything went to the person that you wanted it to go to? A lot of people live in denial – honestly, I had a friend that had terminal cancer, yet up until 2 days before he died, he refused to make his will official. At least he had the wherewithal to do it right before he died; not everyone comes to their senses or faces reality like he did. In these cases, the assets are distributed according to the relationship you have with your family members and as we all know – that can get complicated!
So if you have a spouse and children, you have to take a close look at the relationship. If you are one of those people with children from multiple marriages, you are complicating things when you do not have a will. For example, if some of your kids are from your surviving spouse and others are from a previous marriage, the assets will be divided differently than if you were just married once and all of your children are a direct descendent of the surviving spouse. In the case of a surviving spouse and the children that belong to both of you, the spouse gets $20,000 plus half of what is left of the estate after the $20,000. Your children get to split what is left of that equally. Now, if you have children that are not from your surviving spouse and some that are, your spouse gets half of the estate and the children split what is left equally.
Wait, you are probably wondering what happens if you were never married. Does that still happen? Yes, for those that pass on without a surviving spouse and no children, the probate assets get inherited by the surviving parents, if there are any. If not, it goes down the line to siblings or descendants of those brothers and sisters. They keep going down the line until someone is surviving and able to take on the assets!
Now, if you would rather avoid this confusion and give your assets, such as your house, money, jewelry and cars to those that you want them to go to – make your will today!