If you pass away without an estate plan, what happens to your assets and any items you want to pass down to family members and loved ones does not really matter. With no formal plan in place, the court gets to decide what happens to just about everything you own. If you have any specific desires for what happens to your money and other assets, you should talk to our estate planning attorneys in Ypsilanti, Michigan. We can help you craft a complete, legally binding plan that fulfills your wishes.
What Assets Go Through Probate Court?
When you do not have an estate plan, almost all of your assets will have to go through the probate process. If there is no set beneficiary for an account or asset, a judge has to figure out who should receive these things after you have passed away. Generally, the closest family members are going to get priority.
A living spouse and children will usually be first priority. If you are only leaving a spouse or children behind, they will get the entire estate. If you have a living spouse and children, things get a bit more complicated. Your spouse would get the first $150,000 of your intestate property, then half of your balance. Your children get the rest.
If you do not have a living spouse or children, your parents or siblings could inherit the estate. The court is going to do everything it can to find some relative of yours to pass your assets down to, but if you want any say on how things are distributed you need an estate plan of your own.
What if an Account Already Had a Beneficiary?
In some cases, an account or policy has a named beneficiary already. These would not have to go through the probate process. Assets that commonly require you to name a beneficiary include:
- IRA, 401k, and other types of retirement accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Any account with a transfer-on-death clause, like securities accounts
- Real estate with a transfer-on-death deed
If you named a beneficiary, the right person should receive these particular assets even if you do not have an estate plan set up.
What if I Wanted Some of My Assets to Go Toward a Charitable Cause?
The judge at a probate court can’t know that, and even if they did this is not really an option. If you want to continue supporting an important charitable organization or cause, talk to our lawyers about establishing a trust or foundation. There are many ways to support worthy causes with your remaining assets even after you have passed on.
Consult With an Estate Planning Lawyer
So contact Collis, Griffor & Hendra and schedule a consultation today. We would love to take the time to tell you more about our estate planning services and how we can help you and your family.