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Avoiding the intestate label: why wills are so important

Imagine for a moment that you never put together an estate plan and, as such, you never compose a will. Years and years pass -- you move from your younger years, the 20s and 30s, to your older years of the 60s and 70s. All the while you are gathering assets, building a family, and generally trying to amass a nest egg that you could pass on to your children. But alas, you forgot about that estate plan. And when you pass away, your estate is "intestate" and your last wishes are not followed because they were never made clear.

This hypothetical situation plays out more frequently then you might think. It's why everyone should emphasize getting an estate plan done as soon as possible, and then building upon that estate plan as the years pass by.

"Intestate" simply means to die without a will. When your estate is intestate, it means that the standard rules and state laws that apply to distributing wealth and assets upon a person's death apply. If you had an estate plan and a will in place, then your own customized rule and provisions -- as outlined in the estate plan and the will -- would be followed.

Depending on the circumstances of the intestate estate and the children, spouses and family involved in the estate, the way an intestate estate is dealt with changes dramatically. Your best defense against an estate becoming intestate is to obviously have an estate plan crated early and to frequently update your will.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens If You Die Without a Will?," Accessed Aug. 24, 2016

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