What Happens When You Die?

Well, unfortunately I don’t have supernatural powers or divine intuition, so I can’t rightly say what happens to you when you die. 

What happens with your property and your children is an altogether different matter. 

Whether you know it or not, you already have an estate plan. Unfortunately, that plan may not be what you’d like it to be. In New York, the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law ( E.P.T.L. §4-1.1) lays out the default order of intestate inheritance. In other words, New York tells you who inherits what if you die without a will.

FOR EXAMPLE: If you pass away while married with a child, your spouse receives the first $50k plus 1/2 of the remaining estate AND YOUR CHILD INHERITS THE OTHER HALF.

This is a big deal for a number of reasons. Do you think many 18-year olds are financially mature enough to handle unrestricted access to a significant inheritance? What if they’re still a minor? In New York, minor’s can’t inherit money or property directly, so a court must name a guardian for that property until they turn 18, at which point they, again, have unrestricted access to that property. 

Perhaps more significantly, if both parents pass away without a will and with a minor child, a court is going to decide who raises that child. Would you want a stranger deciding who raises your children?

These are just some of the issues parents face without proper estate planning. Please help keep others informed so they can make smart decisions for themselves and their families.