What If I Don’t Do Any Proper Estate Planning?

Understand the important of proper estate planning.

People often ask me what happens to their estates if they simply don’t do any estate planning. The short answer is that the State of Missouri decides. R.S.Mo 474.010 is a statute that lists the people who are entitled to someone’s estate that dies without a will (intestate). First, all of your property will go to your spouse (if you have one), as long as you don’t have any kids. If you have a spouse and children, the first $20,000.00 of your estate goes to your spouse, then ½ of the remaining balance goes to your children IF your spouse is also a biological or adoptive parent of the children. And if you don’t have a spouse but have children, the entire estate goes to them in equal shares. If you don’t have a spouse or children, then your estate goes to your parents and siblings in equal shares. If you don’t have any of those, then to your grandparents, aunts and uncles in equal shares. Confused yet?

The simple answer is to PLAN. Estate planning allows you to modify what happens to your estate. There are several reasons to plan now:

You might not want everything to be split equally

While most people want their assets to pass to their children, they may not want them to be split equally at death. Maybe one child received an advancement for college. Maybe another child took over the family business. An estate plan allows you to determine the fairest way to divide assets.

You don’t want people to fight

Unfortunately, families fight over possessions. While I wish it didn’t happen, I’ve seen it far too many times. An estate plan will allow you to correct this before it becomes a problem.

Families move and grow apart

Sometimes relatives grow apart or move away. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t inherit property, but, unlike in the movies, attorneys or accountants rarely call a distant relative to inform him that he just inherited his uncle’s entire estate. If you an estate plan in place, you can let people know that, when the time comes, certain assets go to certain people.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  If you have questions about the content above and how it may relate to a legal matter you’re facing, please visit the contact page or submit a questions below.

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