Anne Heche died without an estate plan in place. An estate planning lawyer is essential to help you avoid the turmoil that dying intestate (without a will or estate plan) causes for your family. Anne Heche is an unfortunate example of this. Anne Heche, who was just 53 years old, died unexpectedly in a tragic car crash. She left behind two sons, one who is a minor and one who is 20 years old. In a recent article, https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/anne-heche-died-will-20-year-old-son-filed-papers-control-estate-rcna46011, it has been reported that her 20 year old son has petitioned the probate court to request that he be allowed to administer her estate. He also requested that someone be appointed to represent the interests of his brother.
None of us wants to spend too much time thinking about the fact that we, too, may die before our time. But the consequences of not putting an estate plan in place are made clear by Ms. Heche's untimely death. We can all agree that it is not ideal and will be very difficult for her children to navigate the administration of what is likely a substantial estate. As the only heirs to her estate, her sons will likely split her assets evenly. But it begs the question, would you want your son at just 20 years old to inherit half of your estate? In this instance, that likely means that he will inherit millions of dollars. And that is difficult for such a young person to manage, particularly with his mother passing away.
An estate plan could have accomplished so many things for Ms. Heche's children. It could have named a guardian and trustee for her younger son - the guardian of her choosing, not a court's. An estate plan could have put her assets in trust for her children, with a trustee to help guide them and manage what is likely a large estate. For example, a trust could have provided for the health, education, maintenance and support of the children until they reach a more mature age to inherit Ms. Heche's assets. We typically design plans to allow for that inheritance in stages, when a child reaches certain ages. While unpleasant to think about, such planning is our responsibility to our children, and will help avoid conflict, stress, and uncertainty when we pass. An estate planning lawyer will help you think about all of those contingencies and ensure your family is taken care of.
If you live in the Madison, WI area and would like to talk about how an estate plan might look for you, no matter how big or small your estate is, give us a call and we'd be happy to help.