What is at Stake if You Pass Away Without a Will?

Creating a will and planning your estate is an incredibly important process that all adults need to think long and hard about, especially if they have children. Without a last will and testament, vital decisions about your estate will be left up to the courts or someone who might not be the best choice to oversee the process.

If you are married and believe you might not need a will because your spouse will naturally inherit the home and raise the children, you may not be taking into account some of the worst case scenarios. Should the unthinkable happen and both you and your spouse pass away with minor children, the decision over who will raise the children will be up to the courts if neither of you took the time to craft a will.

In that scenario, a court will need to choose a guardian to raise the children and oversee any assets that pass down. Letting a judge decide who will take care of your children can end up being an extremely emotional situation for some families, particularly if surviving family members disagree over who is best suited to take on the responsibility. If for no other reason than the sake of minor children, couples need to create a will spelling out who exactly will become their children’s guardian.

Even if you do not have children, a probate court will need to appoint a personal representative to your estate to oversee the dispersal of assets to your heirs. Again, you would be putting important decisions in the hands of a judge who has no idea what your final wishes would be and whether or not the personal representative is truly the best individual to handle the challenge.

Often times, individuals create some kind of trust to keep their estate from passing through the sometimes long and costly process of probate. While a trust is an excellent way to have an expedient and efficient transfer of assets, it still does not address all your end of life decisions the way a last will and testament does.

Again, a trust does not address who will be the guardian of your minor children and may not cover all the income your estate may receive after your passing, particularly if you died in an accident and may receive funds from a wrongful death lawsuit. Additionally, you may not have all your real property transferred to trusts or have personal property you would want a beloved family member to cherish after your passing.

Madison Trust and Estate Lawyers

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan 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.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a free consultation or use our online contact form.