Planning for the Future – Part 1

Do you have a will? You should.

Many people find their own death to be a difficult topic even to comprehend, let alone to discuss with others. As a result, many procrastinate when making a will because it is perceived as an unpleasant process. In fact, a 2005 Gallup poll found that only 51% of adults have a will.

Unfortunately, though, ignoring the prospect of death will not make it go away. If you do not have a will, then your property will be distributed regardless, but you will not have a say in the matter. In the state of Maine, if you die without a will, your property is distributed according to the Maine Probate Code’s intestate succession rules.

These default rules provide:

  • A surviving spouse or registered domestic partner receives the entire estate if you have no descendants or living parents.
  • If you have living descendants or parents, then the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner gets at least half of the estate and may get more depending upon the particular circumstances.
  • If you have no spouse or domestic partner, the property goes to your descendants.
  • If there are no descendants, your property goes to your parents.
  • If your parents are not alive, the property goes to your parents’ descendants.

Your will is your say in the matter.

If you do not have a will, I encourage you to consider getting one drafted strongly. Your will would not only outline the disposal of your property following your wishes but could also designate guardians for minor children and identify a trustworthy individual whom you would like to designate to administer your estate. If you have children who are not yet able to handle funds, you can create a trust in your will and name a trustee to handle the funds of any children or other beneficiaries.

If your will is never created, your property may wind up in a surprising place.

Unless you truly do not care what happens to your property upon death or the default rules are in perfect accordance with your wishes, there is no reason not to make a will. If you have a non-registered domestic partner, friend, or charity to whom you would wish to give property, the Legislature’s default rules are not going to consider them.

Benefits of talking to an attorney face to face:

It helps to have someone knowledgeable and experienced review such important documents. Though some advocate using legal document services like LegalZoom, such services are no substitute for legal advice. There are many benefits to talking to an attorney face to face.

Questions are bound to arise during this process. Even if you do not have any questions, an attorney who assists you in planning an estate may make recommendations you have not thought of or prevent you from making any serious mistakes.

Gilbert Law Offices can work with you in crafting a will and planning your estate at a relatively small cost. We take the time to get to understand your intentions for your legacy. Together, we find the best way to accomplish these goals.

The Parting Gift

I recommend that you pick a day to tackle all of these unpleasant thoughts and get your affairs in order. When this task is accomplished, you may never have to think about it ever again. However, you can be secure in knowing that your property is disposed of according to your own rules, not the default rules of the State. In all likelihood, your family will thank you for it.