Dying Without a Will: “The Prince Story”

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What would the future hold for your family and loved ones if you were to unexpectedly pass tomorrow? Would they be in a position to handle all of your affairs in addition to the funeral arrangements and other stressors inherent with your unexpected death? What would happen to all of the assets you’ll be leaving behind? Who will be entitled to those assets? These are just some of the questions that must be answered prior to embarking on the estate planning journey. Although this is not a pleasant matter to discuss, it is a critical financial event that needs attention. The vital estate planning decisions you make today may have effects on those who survive you when that inevitable day does come.

With the recent untimely death of American singer and songwriter, Prince, the topic of estate planning has made its way back into the spotlight. The reason that estate planning is one of the major takeaways from his tragic death is due to the fact that the late musician died intestate. This means that he passed away without ever having executed a will or estate plan of his own.

Dying intestate, without an executed will, can have detrimental consequences after you’ve passed away. As each individual State has their own specific estate planning laws and legislations, we will focus on the law of the land that governs New York State. Just because you yourself have never executed a will in New York State does not mean that you don’t have one. Should you choose not to execute a will by your own right, the State of New York provides you with a cookie-cutter will by default. With regards to who gets what depends on whether or not you are married, have living children, parents, or other close relatives.

Under New York State intestate succession, there are some key rules as to what happens upon your demise which you should know. Should you die with a spouse and no descendants, the spouse will inherit everything. For someone who has children but no living spouse, the children will inherit everything. But what about someone who has died and left behind both a spouse and descendants? In this instance, the spouse will inherit the first $50,000 of your intestate property in addition to one half of your remaining estate. As for the children, they will inherit the remaining balance in equal shares. For those who were never married and never had any children, parents and siblings come into play. An individual who dies and leaves behind no spouse or descendants will pass everything along to their parents by default. In the case that an individual dies and leaves behind no spouse, descendants or parents, the individual’s living siblings will inherit everything.

Although some of the aforementioned succession protocol may sound suitable, it is very important that you have your own estate planning reviewed by a professional and revisited regularly. Without a will, your estate does not have an executor and therefore, you can expect delays, unnecessary expenses and avoidable frustration. A great misconception is that executing a will is something that only wealthy individuals need to concern themselves with. This is a terrible fallacy.  You do not need wealth to determine who you wish to leave your assets and possessions to at the time of your death.

Do you want the state you’ve resided in your whole life to dictate how your estate will be distributed? Or would you prefer to take this matter into your own hands and proactively determine how your estate will be handled upon your demise? Although it is never too late to have such crucial estate planning documents drafted and executed, it is critical that this gets implemented sooner than later.

If you are without a will and want to dictate how your estate will be handled at the time of your passing, give us a call at (631) 952-4466 x12 and allow MitlinFinancial, Inc. to assist you in securing an estate planning strategy that fits your goals, wishes and needs today! To hear more about this topic, be sure to check out the latest edition of the Mitlin Minute. Don’t leave it up to the laws of intestacy to dictate where your life’s savings ends up if you don’t have to!

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

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