If you are young and do not currently have a lot of assets, you might think you can get by without an estate plan. The flaw in that reasoning is that you can never be sure how much your future estate will actually be worth. For example, even if you do not own much now, what if you die in a car accident caused by a drunk driver and your estate wins a multi-million dollar personal injury judgment? Who gets that money if you never bothered to make a will?
Milwaukee Parents Fight Over Litigation Proceeds of Son’s Estate
A person who dies with no will is said to be “intestate.” His or her estate is then distributed according to Wisconsin’s intestacy law, which establishes an order of inheritance. Let’s say you are unmarried and have no children when you die. Under intestacy, your estate would go to your parents.
Now, maybe that is a perfectly acceptable outcome in your case. But here is something to keep in mind: The intestacy law does not consider the quality of your relationship with your heirs. In other words, let’s say you were raised by your mother and barely knew your father. As far as the intestacy law is concerned ,none of that matters: Both of your parents equally split your estate.
This is not just a hypothetical scenario. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently reported about an ongoing probate dispute involving the parents of a 25-year-old man who died while under the care of a county mental health hospital. Back in January, Milwaukee County agreed to pay the victim’s estate $1.4 million to settle federal civil rights charges.
The victim died without a will, so under the intestacy law his parents stand to inherit what is left of the settlement after expenses, but the mother opposes giving the father anything. She claims he raped and impregnated her when she was a teenager and that he subsequently had no contact with the victim until after he graduated from college. Unfortunately for the mother, that will likely have no impact on the probate court’s ultimate handling of her son’s estate.
Get Help Making a Will Today
Tragic situations like this help illustrate the importance of having a will, even if you are a young adult just starting out in life. The truth is that none of us can predict what will happen from one day to the next. If the unexpected does occur, you want to make sure whatever property is left in your name will go directly to the people you love and not just those individuals who can prove they are related to you by blood.
The estate lawyers of Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.
To attend a free estate planning workshop or to receive our client planner to assess your estate planning mindset, contact our office by calling (608) 292-5185 or use our online contact form.