Fans, fellow actors, and countless others in the entertainment world were deeply saddened when the talented Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer in 2020 at just 43 years old. According to an NBC News report, many were shocked by his death because he had hidden his condition from the public while fighting the cancer privately. The star of Black Panther, portrayer of hero Jackie Robinson in 42, and actor in numerous other films was survived by his wife and parents.
Another shock came not long after Boseman’s passing, when it was revealed that he did not have a will. Ultimately, the actor’s estate settled without significant disputes, but the situation could have been far worse. Families go through horrific ordeals with intestate estates, i.e., probate cases where there is no will. An estate planning lawyer can explain legal details, and some basics are useful.
Overview of Intestate Laws
Probate codes are different in every state, but the statutes are very similar in the topics they cover. In general, estate administration is winding down the deceased person’s affairs, so the person has no remaining assets, debts, or liabilities. A few points illustrate how some of the most important tasks in the process are affected when the deceased individual did not have a will.
- The court must appoint someone to act on behalf of the estate because no one has been named as executor. The laws dictate that a surviving spouse, children, parents, and other relatives have the power, and many statutes include provisions on who has priority. The decedent does not have a say on appointment of a personal representative.
- Without instructions on who is to receive specific real estate and personal property, and no direction on general distributions, the laws of intestacy determine where the deceased person’s assets go. In general, the surviving spouse and children receive these assets. However, further distant relatives may receive distributions depending on their position in the family. The decedent does not have control over distributions to heirs.
- Most probate laws require the personal representative to deposit a bond as insurance policy in favor of the estate. This requirement can be waived by will, but a bond must be posted for intestate estates. The costs can range from the hundreds into the thousands.
A Will Puts You in Control
All of the above scenarios could be avoided with a properly executed will, but there is another advantage. A will reduces the potential for disputes among surviving family members, and usually eliminates disagreements entirely. The result is lower legal costs and quicker time to closing the estate.
Trust an Estate Planning Attorney for Guidance with Creating Your Will
As you can see, not having a will can lead to circumstances you never intended and create costly, drawn-out disputes among surviving family members. It may seem like a daunting step, but our team at Francois Williams Legal is ready to support you with all estate planning details. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.