Many people in Georgia put off drafting their wills or trusts. If they fail to complete the estate planning process before passing away, their families may face some unintended consequences. Both Prince and Aretha Franklin died without having wills or trusts, and their cases illustrate the importance of having estate planning documents in place.
When people die without wills or trusts, their estates will be probated. This means that the probate court will determine how to distribute the assets based on the laws of intestacy. Intestate succession is outlined in state laws, meaning that the assets may be passed in a way that the decedents didn't intend to happen.
As Aretha Franklin's and Prince's cases show, there are added problems when people who have very large estates pass away without wills or trusts. There is a 40 percent tax on an estate's assets that go above the $11.8 million exemption threshold. In Franklin's case, her estate is worth an estimated $80 million. This means that the IRS will receive approximately $27.5 million. Franklin also had four adult children, and one of her kids has special needs. There could potentially be litigation and conflict among the family members, and Franklin's son with special needs may not be able to receive certain government benefits.
Adults of all ages can benefit from drafting estate planning documents. Even young people with few assets may want to have documents such as advanced health care directives and durable powers of attorney written just in case. It may be a good idea for people to talk to experienced estate planning lawyers to learn about the types of estate planning documents that might be appropriate for their particular needs and their goals. An attorney could recommend the documents that might help to avoid family disputes.