Most people don’t like to think about their own mortality or the idea that their parents will eventually die. However, having a friend or neighbor lose a parent can serve as a major wake-up call. You may start to wonder what the future will hold for you as you listen to them explain how stressful and frustrating going through probate court has been for their family.
You might find yourself worrying about whether you will have to endure the same kind of stress when your parents die someday in the future. How difficult handling their estate will be for you depends in large part on how carefully they plan ahead of time.
What happens if your parents die without a last will or estate plan?
If someone passes away without an estate plan on record, intestate succession laws apply to their property and debts. In Michigan, parents, spouses and children have the most significant inheritance rights when someone doesn’t leave a last will. There are rules that apply for both nuclear families and blended families where the parents don’t necessarily share parentage of the children.
In an intestate succession scenario, family members will need to put together information about the assets and debts held by the deceased party and submit that information to the Michigan probate courts. The courts will then oversee the administration of the estate to ensure that all debts receive proper repayment and all assets get distributed in accordance with state law.
An estate plan helps even if your parents want you to inherit everything
Maybe you don’t have siblings, and your parents just intend for you to inherit everything. Perhaps you do have siblings, and they anticipate that you will split everything evenly among yourselves when they die. Your parents might think that intestate succession laws offer enough protection for your family when they die.
Talking with your parents about the complications of going through probate without a last will could help. If they understand that the estate could lose significant value due to probate costs and that you and other beneficiaries will have major delays while waiting for access to those assets, that could motivate your parents to create a last will now to protect their wishes and your inheritance.