A will is a document that lets you tell the world who you want to get your assets. Die without one, and the state decides who gets what, without regard to your wishes or your heirs’ needs.
Amy Winehouse had many ups and downs during her short life, but it appears the singer/songwriter left behind an up-to-date and ironclad estate plan. Her tragic death at age 27 illustrates why you are never too young for a Will.
Winehouse and Blake Fielder-Civil were married briefly. Under English law, marriage negates any Wills made before the marriage, but if a couple divorces and there is no new Will, the ex-spouse is the favored beneficiary. Fortunately, Winehouse reportedly updated her Will to ensure that Fielder-Civil would not inherit any of her estate. Under Winehouse’s Will her fortune, estimated at $16 million, will go to her divorced parents and her brother.
In the United States, if you die without a Will, the state dictates who will inherit from you. If you are married, most states award part of your estate to your spouse and part to the children. If you have no spouse then all to the children in equal shares. If you have no children, then all to the spouse. If you have neither a spouse nor children, then to your closest relatives, even if you didn’t know them!
If you have accumulated some assets (it doesn’t have to be Winehouse’s millions) or if you have young children who will need a guardian, then it is time to start thinking about an estate plan. Planning your estate with a Will or Trust may be the best way to ensure your estate is distributed the way you want.
If you need help devising an estate plan that’s right for you, please contact my office at 630-377-3241 to schedule a consultation.
Linda M. Strohschein