Abraham Lincoln, this country’s 16th president, was an attorney before being elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. As president he paved the way for the abolition of slavery and promoted the modernization of the economy. President Lincoln had a wife and four children when he was assassinated at the age of 54. When President Lincoln, an esteemed lawyer, died he died without a Will.
Howard Hughes was a film producer/director of movies like Hell’s Angels in 1930 and Scarface in 1932 and was an avid aviator. In 1979 Mr. Hughes died leaving over a billion dollar estate, no children and two ex-wives.
Steve McNair was an NFL quarterback. Prior to his death Steve bought a 45 acre farm that his mother lived at. Mr. McNair died with a wife and four children, two with his wife and two with another woman leaving and estate of over 19 million dollars.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Nobel Peace Prize winning minister and civil rights leader. When Dr. King died he left a wife and four children.
So what do an esteemed lawyer, a billionaire, and NFL quarterback and a civil rights leader have in common? Each of these individuals died without having a valid Last Will and Testament in place at the time of their deaths.
Dr. King had premonitions concerning his own death yet he did not take the basic precautions to ensure that his legacy would be preserved, that his wishes would be honored or that his family would not fight over his assets. Had Dr. King prepared a Will he could have given his personal travel bible to one of his children or have requested that his personal property be sold and money used to further civil rights. Because Dr. King did not prepare a Will and did not have any other type of estate planning in place his children, after Dr. King’s wife passed, began fighting over whether to sell Dr. King’s personal travel bible or his Nobel Peace Prize.
Steve McNail, died at age 36. When Mr. McNail died his mother was living in a farm house that he had purchased. After living in the home while her son was alive, Mr. McNail’s mother was forced to move because she could not afford the monthly rent that the Estate of McNail was requiring her to pay for use of the property. Had Steve McNail had basic Estate Planning in place at the time of his death he could have transferred the house to his mother after he passed away. Had Mr. McNail prepared more in-depth estate planning in place he could have placed the home in a Trust that would allow his mother the use of the home for the rest of her life without having to pay rent.
Howard Hughes died with a net value of over one billion dollars in 1976. When Mr. Hughes died he had no children and no wife. After he passed a hand-written Will was provided to the Surrogate’s Court which was eventually determined, by a jury, to be a forgery. In 1983 Mr. Hughes’s estate was divided between 22 of his cousins, family which it is was believed by some that Mr. Hughes did not want to inherit his fortune.
It is estimated that over half of adults do not have even the basic estate planning in place. This means that over half of adults are comfortable with the State in which they reside at death determining how their estate will be distributed. The State, not the person that passed and owned the property, will determine what family should and should not receive assets and how much. It is known as the Laws of Intestacy and every State has its own. Don’t care to have the State determine who gets what? Speak to an attorney about Estate Planning and protecting your wishes and your family today.