What Happens If You Don’t Have a Valid Will or Trust?

You have probably heard time and again that you should have a will or trust. Yet for some reason, you have not taken the time to complete this task. It can be overwhelming to think about what will happen after you are gone. And it can be hard for family members, such as your spouse, to have these conversations. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney to draft a will or trust, you can ensure your family’s security in the future.

Why should I create a Will?

You may think that you have plenty of time to work out these issues and create your will or trust. But life is unpredictable. An unexpected accident, injury or illness could change your life in an instant. Estate planning will ensure that your wishes are known. Not only can you address issues such as the distribution of your property and assets, but you can also ensure that you have named a guardian for your children and even a caretaker for your pets. If you pass away without a will or trust, then your legacy and your family’s future will be left up to a probate court.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

If you do not have a will, your loved ones will need to go to probate court to decide what happens to your property and assets. The primary goal of probate is to ensure that your loved ones receive a fair portion of the assets and property. If your estate is under $150,000 in value, then your surviving spouse will receive your entire estate. If your estate is worth more than $150,000, then your surviving spouse will inherit the first $150,000 of your estate, plus half of any remaining balance that is over $150,000. The remaining portion of your estate will be divided among your children.

Eligible children can include:

  • Biological children
  • Adopted children
  • Children that you have had with someone other than your current spouse
  • Children that you conceived with your spouse, but have not been born yet

Depending on your family circumstances, this is where the law can get complicated and frustrating for your loved ones. If you have children from a previous marriage, or if you have children that you are no longer in contact with for whatever reason, they are all eligible for your equal portions of your estate. Although your spouse has rights to attain a significant portion of your assets and property, your children may come into conflict over which assets belong to whom. Of course, crafting a will or trust can avoid all of these complexities.

How can an Estate Planning Attorney help?

If you have already decided to create a will or trust, be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. The key to passing on your legacy is to ensure that you have a valid will or trust. Your attorney can help you to do this. If your will or trust is found to be invalid, then your assets and property will be distributed based on Michigan law, instead of your wishes.

An experienced estate planning attorney can also help you through the difficult conversations with your loved ones about the future. With the guidance of your attorney, you can go through the estate planning process in a smooth and efficient way and feel confident about your decisions.