Believe it or not, everyone has a will. If you choose not to write your own will, or if the will you write is rejected by the probate court for some reason, the state you live in has written a will for you (called an intestate will).
In the state’s will, the state has first claim on all of your property to assure that your debts are paid and certain people are protected. The state’s will often distributes your property to people other than those you wanted to receive your property. More or less, your property passes according to state law, not according to your desires. If you have your own will, the courts will use it instead of the state intestate will.
Everyone Has a Will that Reads This Way
Everyone has a will written by the state. The laws vary a little from state to state. But when your state’s Intestate Will is written in plain English, it basically reads as follows:
YOUR LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Because I don’t really want to take the time or go to the expense of making out my own will, or if I messed up my attempt to make a will, I want the state to make a will for me. I understand and agree to the following terms:
The Court should figure out who my spouse is and who my children are. Please don’t take anyone’s word if they claim to be part of my family. Make them prove their relationship to me.
I give one half (1/2) of all my property and possessions to my spouse and the remaining one half (1/2) to my children.
I appoint my spouse, or if I am divorced, I appoint my ex-spouse, as guardian to my children. I don’t trust my spouse or ex-spouse; so as a safeguard, I require them to report to the Probate Court each year and render a full a
As a further safeguard, I direct the Probate Court to secure a performance bond from my spouse, or whoever is acting as guardian to my children, to guarantee that they exercise proper judgment in handling, investing and spending my children’s money. Because there is money to burn in my estate, I direct that the premium for the bond be paid out of my estate funds. I realize that I could waive the requirement for the bond, but I elect not to do so.
Even with the bond and accounting to the Probate Court, my children shall have the right, when they reach the age of eighteen (18), to demand a complete accounting from my spouse of all of the financial actions that have taken place with their money since I died.
Should my spouse remarry, the new guy or gal shall be entitled to one half (1/2) of everything my spouse possesses. Should my children need some of my possessions that go to the new guy or gal, that is basically their problem. The property that goes to the new guy or gal is his/hers to do with as he/she wishes, even to the exclusion of my children.
Should my spouse predecease me or die while any of my children are minors, I do not wish to exercise my right to nominate the guardian of my children. Rather than nominating a guardian of my preference, I direct my relatives and friends to get together and select a guardian by mutual agreement. I direct the Probate Court to make the final selection. If the Court wishes, it may appoint a stranger acceptable to the Court.
Under existing tax law, there are certain legitimate avenues open to me to lower death taxes. Since I prefer to have my money used for governmental purposes rather than for the benefit of my spouse and children, I direct that no effort be made to lower taxes, and the maximum amount exacted by law shall be paid to the State and Federal governments to use in the manner they see fit.
In the event that all of my children predecease me, and my spouse survives me and subsequently dies without a will, it is my desire that all of my property of whatsoever nature which was passed to my spouse when I died, shall pass to my spouse’s relatives and none shall pass to my relatives.
Should the state be unable to locate my relatives during the statutory period, I direct the state to liquidate my estate and add the money received to the state treasury to be used for whatever purpose the state sees fit.
I know that I can name a person or institution to administer my estate, but I elect to have the Probate Court make a selection for me. I also know that if I name a person or institution to administer my estate, I can waive the expense of a Performance Bond, but I do not desire to make this waiver.
IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have read and fully understand the foregoing, agree to the consequences described, and wish to make this document public upon my death. I adopt this, by default, as my “Will.”
No Signature Required
No Witness Required
This is basically the will you have if you haven’t taken the time to do a will for yourself.
Is this the one you want? If not, you’d better do something! Almost anything is better than nothing.