Some people die without an estate plan. If there is no plan present, their assets are divided among their heirs as determined by the government. In order to have control over your estate, you need to set up an estate plan that makes clear your wishes for the assets that you will be leaving behind. Otherwise, your money will be given out to your heirs according to a governmental formula, regardless of your intentions.
For Gays And Lesbians, Estate Planning Is Critical
If you are in a same sex relationship, but not married, your partner is not entitled to any financial benefits if you should die without an estate plan. While many states now allow same sex couples to get married, not every state in the nation does. To protect your partner in the case of your death, you need to establish a plan that makes it clear you leave your assets to them.
Dying Without A Plan, Your Children Inherit Your Estate
If you die without an estate plan (and without a spouse), your children are the first to inherit your estate. Your assets are divided equally among your children. If you have adopted children, they receive an equal share to biological children. However, if you have stepchildren, they may not be entitled to any inheritance if you die without a will.
If You Don't Have Children, The Courts Look For Your Parents
If you die as a single person and you don't have any children, the next people considered as heirs to your estate are your parents. If your parents are no longer alive, your siblings will divide your estate in equal shares. If you don't have living siblings, but you have nieces and nephews, your estate will be distributed among these relatives, regardless of your relationship with them.
It is important to create an estate plan, even if you don't believe you have any assets. You may have equity in your home, physical property that has monetary value, and life insurance or retirement accounts that will be liquidated at the time of your death. Most people don't leave their assets to the parties determined by the government, and a specialized plan will ensure that your money goes where you want it to when you die. For example, if you want to leave your money to a charity, you need to outline this in your estate plan. If you want to specifically leave a person out of your will, you should indicate this information as well. Your estate plan should clearly reflect what you want to happen to your assets once you are no longer here to enjoy them.
For more information, contact an estate planning attorney, such as Law Office of Tara L. Wolff.