Daily Finance posted an article here that purports to explain "Why More than Half of Americans Don't have Wills."
Though the predictable (and perhaps question-begging) answer "we procrastinate and don't like to think about death" leaves the reader mildly disappointed, the statistics the article cites make it well worth perusing.
Among other interesting numbers is the survey result that "13% [of people] believe that their spouse and children will automatically receive the assets they have in the event of their deaths."
Experience shows that the above number is perhaps understated. Anecdotal reports from contacts of this firm also yield the disturbing fact that most married individuals believe their spouse will inherit everything when they die.
Unfortunately, this is entirely untrue. In no U.S. jurisdiction of which we are aware does the spouse automatically take the entire estate. And not only is inheritance not "automatic," but it also does not follow such a simple scheme. In Georgia in particular, the spouse and children share equally in the probate property (with the exception that the spouse never takes less than one third).
Often, the survivor of a married couple with children will find him or herself going through lengthy administration only to inherit a share of his or her own home, such that the house cannot be sold or mortgaged without the consent of mutual children - something that can be a hassle when the children are grown and an outright disaster if they are minors.
With estate planning, as with other areas of law, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Wills and inheritance law is the specialty of Tanner Pittman, LLC, and we are skilled both in drafting estate plans to our clients' wishes and in explianing them in a way that non-lawyers find accessible.
Tanner Pittman, LLC is a West Georgia law firm that specializes in estate services, civil litigation, and legal transactions.
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