People who have the habit of making daily to-do lists know that there is almost nothing as satisfying as crossing something off the list after they have completed the task. The satisfaction may be even more rewarding if the task was particularly difficult or uncomfortable. However, one task that many people in Michigan fail to add to their lists is the completion of an estate plan. Failing to give this matter importance on the list of priorities often leads to frustration for heirs during estate administration and probate.
When someone dies without a will, the estate is said to be intestate and is under the management of the intestate laws of that state. Such laws are created to ensure that inheritances are dealt with fairly if there is no will or trust to designate assets in any particular way. In many states, the surviving spouse and children inherit certain portions of the estate. If the deceased has no children or spouse, his or her assets generally go to any living parents or siblings.
Most states have laws that consider many contingencies, including adopted children, stepchildren and common-law spouses. For example, the laws predetermine what will happen to a person's estate if the deceased has a child who preceded him or her in death and left behind children. In this case, the children of the child who died may inherit the portion of the estate that would have gone to their parent had he or she survived.
Since families are unique and have circumstances the law may not have considered, the best way to prevent one's estate from falling into the hands of the Michigan courts is to create a plan. Estate administration and probate is difficult enough when an estate is in good order, but leaving one's heirs without legal direction may create undue hardships for loved ones. Consulting an estate planning attorney is always a good step when one has questions about accomplishing this important item on the to-do list.
Source: moneycrashers.com, "Intestacy Rules & Laws: What Happens When Dying Without a Will", Mark Theoharis, Accessed on April 1, 2017