A True Story:
I presented a seminar a couple of years ago, which was attended by a middle-aged couple, among several others.
- It was a second marriage for both of them.
- The husband had adult children from his previous marriage; the wife had no children of her own.
- Neither of them had an estate plan.
The wife asked me, "What if I die? What happens to my assets"?
I answered that, pursuant to Massachusetts laws of intestacy (where one dies without a will), her husband would inherit everything, and after his death, his children would inherit the whole of their combined estates, if he remained single and did no planning.
She was outraged! She wanted her assets to go to her nieces and nephews. I explained that she needed to express this legally with a will or a trust or other such planning, for example:
by adding her nieces and nephews as joint owners of assets or pay-on-death beneficiaries of assets; naming them as beneficiaries of life insurance or retirement plans (when possible), etc.
Instead, this is the result- her blood relatives would inherit nothing from her estate.
She failed to plan and so: Her little piggy goes all the way to her unintended beneficiary!