Not having a Will can put your children at risk

Many people put off having the talk or thinking about preparing a will. It's difficult to face the possibility of dying. Having said that, failing to make a will can burden your children significantly and lead to unfavorable difficulties, as Anne Heche's recent passing illustrates. Even if it may be challenging, preparing in advance could be preferable to the alternative.

What Happened With Actress Anne Heche?

The case of Anne Heche serves as a fantastic illustration of why someone should think about making a will as soon as possible. Heche had two children from various relationships and was divorced at the time of her death. Her eldest son is 20, while her youngest son is still a juvenile.

Despite the fact that they are presumed to be her sole heirs, only her oldest son is of legal age to handle her fortune. To safeguard the interests of his younger brother, he has submitted a petition for the appointment of a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem could be a financial burden on Heche's estate, and the price of retaining this professional may limit the assets available to her sons.

Even if her oldest son is handling his mother's inheritance, it must be quite challenging for someone to go through this at such a young age. Heche's eldest son probably won't be able to handle this on his own and will require the help of a probate lawyer, which will increase the price of handling her inheritance and reduce the amount left over for her children.

It has also been claimed that an inventory and evaluation of her estate are required to ascertain its value and what assets she had. Additional professional engagement in this procedure is necessary, and her estate will be responsible for those costs. Furthermore, it's probable that her youngest son's father would try to get involved in the estate's management so he gets treated fairly. If there is any disagreement on this, litigation expenses could mount swiftly.

Making a will and other estate planning documents can keep your position as private as possible while also making court proceedings substantially less complicated and expensive. Additionally, it can make it simpler for your loved ones to understand your wishes regarding the disposition of your property.

In the event of a death without a will, who inherits? 

Many individuals are unaware that if you die without a will, your local state laws on intestacy will determine who qualifies as your heirs and who obtains your property.

In several states, for example, if a person dies unmarried but with children, the children will inherit everything. However, what if the individual was already married or in a committed relationship? A "default" state law might have a different outcome than what they intended, even though they may have wanted their significant other to receive some of their assets. What if you don't have any live parents, siblings, spouse, or children? In place of family, close friends, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews, your property can go to the government. All of these eventualities are avoided by having a will.

Decide who will be your children's guardian.

Being able to select a guardian for their children in advance is another advantage that parents should think about.

This is important, for instance, if one of the parents is missing or cannot be traced. If a person does not express their preferences in advance, other parties may step up after their passing and disagree about who should look after any minor children.

It's possible that the decision will be made by a court, which might not be what you would have preferred. Costly, painful, and a drawn-out procedure can all be associated with this. If your preferences are expressed in a will or other planning instrument, courts will typically attempt to appoint the person you have chosen.

The Bottom Line

In the end, having estate planning paperwork in place increases the likelihood that your desires will be carried out and decreases the likelihood that a judge will make the final decision. This is equally true if you are unconscious and unable to express your wishes. Even though Anne Heche's circumstance is common, it may have been prevented.

A local attorney can provide you with information on creating a will and other estate planning paperwork.