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Estate Planning Nightmares: Trick or Trust

Keep reading to hear three real-life horror stories of people who did not plan ahead, and learn how your customized Estate Plan can help you avoid the same mistakes.

With Halloween right around the corner, it is likely that you are enjoying scary movies, scary books, haunted houses, and more to get a healthy dose of fright to fit the season and get your adrenaline pumping. However, these spooky encounters are only fun when they stay harmless! Make sure that your scary moments this season remain harmless by creating a comprehensive and thorough state-specific online Estate Plan.

Estate planning is the culmination of a series of documents that outline how you want your affairs handled after your death. Your Estate Plan will detail who you want to receive your assets—houses, cars, properties, jewelry, clothing etc.—after your death, as well as lay out your instructions for how you want your body to be handled or how you want your health to be conducted in the event that you cannot do so yourself. With a thorough Estate Plan that you can create online, you can ensure that you have control over your end-of-life planning and where all of your assets will end up upon your death.

Without an Estate Plan, you run the risk of facing real life nightmares, as you will give up control of your end-of-life wishes. Perhaps, you have a specific person that you want to inherit your house, or maybe you have very specific guidelines for how you would like your body to be buried. Without an Estate Plan, your plans for your death may not come to fruition. You also run the risk of causing unnecessary stress and arguments among your family members, creating unwanted nightmares for your loved ones in their time of grief. 

The Man with No Will

In 2012, Roman Blum passed away without a Will to his name in New York. He had a net worth of almost $40 million when he passed away, and since he left behind no Will, the state had no official direct heir to his assets. In situations like this, the normal course of action is to have the deceased’s spouse inherit the assets. However, Roman Blum did not have a spouse at the time of his death. Normally, the assets would then go to the deceased’s children. However, in Roman Blum’s case, there were no living children accounted for. 

So, what happens in the event that there is no Will, living spouse, or living children? The state will then look for any surviving relatives of the deceased who could inherit the assets. However, once again there were no living relatives to be found in the case of Roman Blum. When there is no other living heir to claim the money, the assets are left on hold for three years in the hopes that an heir might come forward. What happens if no heir arrives? The money all goes to the state. 

In situations like this, people often file claims from all over alleging that they are somehow related to the deceased, creating a time-consuming and unnecessary process. So much is left up to chance when no Will is left behind, and all control of where your assets end up, may disappear. Fortunately, all these nightmarish problems can be avoided with the creation of a Will, which is a legal document that states how you want your assets distributed after you die. A Will creates a legally-binding document that the state will have to uphold.

Disputes Between Spouses and Children

Another common horror story that occurs when no Will can be found is when it results in disputes between spouses and children. In one case, a recently remarried father passed away without a Will, much like in the case of Roman Blum. However, in this situation, the man left behind both a spouse and children. As we explained earlier, if someone passes away without a Will, the spouse will receive everything. 

In this case, since no Will was found, the children of the deceased were left with nothing. Not only did they have no legal claim to any of their father’s assets, but they also had no claim over family heirlooms or treasured assets from their childhood. In this case, the spouse of the children’s father refused to share any inheritance with the children for fear of not having enough to live on for the rest of her life. Because of this, the relationship between the stepmother and the deceased’s children was irrevocably damaged. This whole situation could have been avoided with the creation of a Will and comprehensive Estate Plan.

Minor Children with no Trust

In this case, a father passed away and his deceased ex-wife was listed as his beneficiary within his health insurance. Since the ex-wife had passed, law dictates that health insurance money goes to the next of kin, which in this case was the deceased’s father’s minor children, even though he had a current wife. Because his children were minors and there was no Trust in place to manage the inheritance until the children became legal adults, the state was left to manage the money. This left the deceased’s current wife struggling to take care of herself and the deceased’s children instead of having access to the health insurance funds. If the beneficiaries had been up to date, or a Trust had been put into place, this horror story could have been avoided completely. 

Trust and Will knows how scary cases like these can be, and we know the immense tension they can put on the loved ones left behind. That is why we are dedicated to helping make the estate planning process easier, helping you avoid nightmare situations like this altogether. Not sure where to start? Take our free online quiz to point you in the right direction and help keep estate planning nightmares at bay!