State law can only assume how the typical person would dispose of their estate. When a state’s default intestacy laws do not align with the actual preferences of the decedent about who should get what, this can lead to a number of issues.
Intestacy refers to the legal situation that arises when a person passes away without a valid will or estate plan in place. When this happens, the state’s laws dictate how the person’s assets will be distributed among their heirs. These laws, known as intestate succession laws, vary from state to state. Unfortunately, the default distribution might not align with your wishes or the needs of your loved ones.
The Implications of Intestacy
- Loss of Control: One of the most compelling reasons to avoid intestacy is the loss of control over how your estate is distributed. By not having a clear and legally binding estate plan outlining your wishes, you leave it up to the state to decide who gets what.
- Delays and Costs: Intestacy can often result in lengthy legal processes and increased costs. The absence of a will can lead to complex probate proceedings that can delay distribution of assets for months or even years, depriving your heirs of much-needed financial support during that time.
- Unintended Beneficiaries: Intestacy laws follow a predetermined hierarchy for distributing assets, typically favoring spouses and children, or then parents and more distant relatives. If you wish to provide for close friends, charitable organizations, or other beneficiaries not covered by the intestate succession laws, having a will or trust plan is crucial.
- Guardianship Issues: If you have minor children, intestacy could lead to uncertainties about who will become their legal guardian. By nominating a guardian for your children in your will, you can ensure that they are cared for by someone you trust.
- Tax Inefficiencies: Proper estate planning allows you to minimize tax liabilities and potentially save your beneficiaries from unnecessary tax burdens. In relying on the state laws of intestacy, these planning opportunities can be lost.
Why Michigan Residents Should Act Now
Michigan’s laws of intestate succession might not align with your personal priorities or circumstances. If you’re a Michigan resident, here’s why you should take action to avoid intestacy:
- Protect Your Loved Ones: Estate planning lets you prioritize your loved ones’ financial well-being and protect them from the potential hardships that intestacy can create.
- Ensure Asset Distribution: By creating a will, trust, or other estate planning documents, you can ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, with your understanding of the needs of your loved ones and intended beneficiaries, rather than being subject to default state laws.
- Minimize Disputes: Clearly outlining your intentions in a legally binding estate plan can help prevent conflicts among family members and beneficiaries.
- Save Time and Costs: A well-structured estate plan can streamline or avoid the probate process, reducing administrative delays and expenses.
- Plan for Your Unique Circumstances: If you have unique family dynamics, valuable assets, or charitable inclinations, a comprehensive estate plan allows you to address these specific situations.
Do Not Leave Your Legacy Up to the State
There is much about death we cannot control. We do not know when, where, or how we will meet our end. But we can control our legacy and ensure that our final wishes are honored through a comprehensive estate plan.
Do not leave your legacy up to the state. Call us to today to schedule an appointment and let us help you create an estate plan. Plan now while you still can and make your wishes are known and carried out.