Dear Liz: I don’t have a question, but I want to share a personal experience that may help illustrate why people should make an estate plan.
My father died in 1982 and left my mother quite well off. Two years later, my mother remarried, sold the family farm and used the cash to build a nice home in a resort area. Two years after that, she died and my stepfather inherited her entire estate, including the nice new house.
I don’t believe either my father or my mother would have wanted this man to inherit everything instead of their children. I hope my experience may help parents to do much more diligent planning on behalf of their children, and perhaps even help children ask important questions before it’s too late.
A: Your situation is all too common. Although there’s a possibility that your parents ultimately didn’t want you to inherit, the more likely explanation is that they simply put off estate planning.
When you don’t have a will or a living trust, the rules of the state where you die dictate who gets what, and often the surviving spouse gets everything. If that’s not the outcome you want, you need to take steps now to make sure your wishes are honored.