As estate planning attorneys, we often meet with prospective clients who already understand why they need to establish an effective plan of inheritance, but they just want to know how to do so. There are those few meetings, however, in which prospective clients are not yet convinced that they need estate planning documents at all. These conversations generally focus on the advantages of naming executors of your will and guardians of your minor children and dictating who will, and sometimes more importantly who will not, be a devisee of your estate. We touch on some of the repercussions of intestacy, including increased court oversight during probate proceedings, as well as the fact that, in many states, children inherit equally with a surviving spouse. In Georgia, for example, if an individual dies intestate and leaves a surviving spouse and two children ages 21 and 23, the estate is divided in equal shares between the spouse and the two children. If the decedent’s estate is valued at $1 million, this means that each child inherits approximately $333,000 outright, free of trust, in their names. This line of reasoning strikes a chord with most clients, as they begin to imagine the choices a young adult might make after inheriting a large sum of money at a young and impressionable age. The ball is typically rolling in the right direction at this point, but what if your prospective clients are still not convinced?
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