Lindsey, if I pass away, what happens to my family if I don’t have an estate plan? – Laney
Laney, Arkansas law actually does provide for this contingency, but you may not like what you find. This is because your spouse won’t inherit all of your assets under these laws in many situations. In fact, it is only when you are married for more than three years and don’t have children that your surviving spouse takes all!
For example, if you are married with children, your spouse will only receive their dower or curtesy share, homestead rights, and some small statutory allowances. In general, this boils down to mean that he or she will receive a 1/3 life estate in all of your real property (use rights for their life), 1/3 of all of your personal property, and use rights in your home for the rest of their lives. All of your other assets will pass directly to your children. This could be crippling for surviving spouses.
If you have been married for less than three years and don’t have children, then your spouse would receive their dower or curtesy share, homestead rights, and statutory allowances; and he or she would also be entitled to 1/2 of all of your remaining assets. The other half of your remaining assets would be distributed to your parents.
Most importantly, though, if you don’t have a plan in place and you have minor children, then it is up to the court to determine the proper guardian for your them after your death. If there is no surviving parent, this can, at minimum, cause long-drawn out custody battles, and in worst-case scenarios cause children to be taken into state custody if no guardian can be found. It is essential that all parents of minor children draft a Last Will and Testament to select potential guardians so that if the unthinkable occurs, your children have family and a home.
As you can see, not having a plan has all types of unintended consequences. To make sure your loved ones aren’t affected by them, call us today for your free Strategy Session.