Many Americans put off writing a will – some for decades. In fact, a 2019 study found that even among those ages 55 and older, 50% of Americans still hadn’t completed a will, the most essential estate planning document.
If you are among those who haven’t created a will yet, here’s if you die without a will:
- Your estate will have to go through probate. The court will determine what your assets are, who your heirs are and what to do if the main beneficiary of your retirement accounts or life insurance policies has passed away.
- Your surviving spouse will receive $150,000 of your estate’s assets, plus half the remaining amount if you had a child together. Your surviving spouse receives $100,000 and half of the balance if you have a descendant from another relationship.
- If a spouse and at least one parent survives you, your spouse receives $150,000 of your probate assets and three-fourths of the balance.
- If a spouse survives you and you have no descendants, your spouse receives 100% of your estate assets.
- If siblings or nieces and nephews survive you, they split your estate assets.
- If your children survive you, they split your estate assets.
- If you have no descendants, the state of Michigan receives your assets.
If you’ve read this far, you likely realize why creating a will is so important. You might want to control who receives your assets. If you have a blended family, you may want to leave some of your assets to your stepchildren. If you are remarried, you may want to give your children a larger share of your assets. You may want to give assets to your favorite charity, nonprofit organization or even your college alma mater.
That’s why it’s never too late to write a will and create an estate plan with an estate planning attorney. You can have more control of your end-of-life health and financial decisions and ensure your family members receive the assets you want them to.