Recently, music lovers everywhere mourned the death of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. In 2016, iconic superstar singer/songwriter Prince passed away at the age of only 57. Aside from their genius-level talents, Aretha Franklin and Prince also shared this: surprisingly, neither had prepared a will! Franklin leaves behind an estate valued around $80 million, while Prince’s estate has been estimated at $200 million. We may shake our heads and wonder why such talented, accomplished and wealthy artists neglected to plan their estates, but the fact is that many people who should have a will, don’t.
Dying without a will or “intestate” results in the distribution of your assets in the manner set forth in the statutes of the state in which you were domiciled. While the result may be a distribution of assets which mirrors what you would have set forth in a will, often the result is not what a person would have planned or wished.
For instance, if you wish to provide a distribution for a family member who cared for you in sickness or if you wish to provide for step-children whom you have raised but not adopted, generally the statutes will prevent that. Further, without estate planning in place, your 18- or 21-year-old child will receive an outright distribution of assets – there is no way to hold a distribution until the child reaches a more responsible age.
Also, if you die intestate, your assets will be distributed to your heirs in a specific order of priority according to Florida statutes. The state’s order of priority may not reflect your priorities at all.
Creating a will is the caring thing to do to prevent your loved ones from experiencing a protracted probate process. A will also help diffuse family disputes as related to your estate. With your wishes documented legally, everyone can be assured that the estate will be distributed accordingly.
To use Prince as an example: since he died in April 2016 without a will, the legal process of settling his estate still continues. Dozens of people initially submitted claims to be Prince’s heirs; the courts finally determined that the only heirs are his six siblings and half-siblings. But the heirs have received nothing from the estate yet because of the legal intricacies of settling an estate without guidance (a will), from the deceased.
Effective estate planning, including a will, provides peace of mind for both you and your heirs.
At Cipparone & Cipparone, we provide comprehensive estate planning services to help you ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Contact us today to discuss your estate planning needs.