If you have any property or other assets that would be passed on in the event of your death, you may not realize how important a will is to protecting your estate. Normally, when one passes away, his or her belongings and wealth are allocated to close family members according to state intestacy laws. These laws decide who inherits your property if you do not have a valid will. Even if these laws divide your estate against your wishes, without a will it is difficult to contest them.
What is a Laughing Heir?
A laughing heir is someone who is a distant relative but who inherits part of your estate because most or all of your close relatives are already deceased. Normally, state intestacy laws direct that a person's assets be passed on to immediate and close family, such as children, a spouse, parents, grandchildren, or siblings. If you have few or no surviving close relatives, more distant relatives may become the unexpected recipients of your wealth. In many states, there is no limit to how distant the relative is in order to qualify for inheritance, meaning that the person or people inheriting part of your property may essentially be strangers.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer
To avoid leaving your possessions to people you may not even know, you should consider consulting with an estate planning lawyer. An estate planning attorney can assist you in drafting up a will, which would protect your estate from being governed by state intestacy laws when you pass away. Having a will gives you the power to decide what becomes of your property in the future. A lawyer will inform you of the numerous possibilities for passing on your estate, including details on wills, trusts, and charities.
For More Information
Don't let the earnings of your life's work pass unwittingly into the hands of strangers. For more information on protecting your estate and drafting a will, please visit Austin estate planning attorneys Slater Kennon & Jameson, LLP here.