30th Oct 2020
If you do not plan ahead with a Last Will and Testament (or other estate planning documents and actions), the following will NOT happen:
1. Surviving Spouse
If you have children, your entire estate will NOT pass to your surviving spouse. (This is such an important issue and widespread misunderstanding that I will likely blog about this more down the road.)
2. Guardian for Children
If you have minor children, you will NOT have left written wishes about who their guardian will be. (It seems theoretically possible under Oklahoma law to leave other written guidance; but, practically, a Will is almost always the place it is done.)
Your estate will NOT benefit any charity. If you wish your university, church, civic group, local library, favorite foundation, or any other charity to benefit from your estate, you must plan ahead.
Your estate will NOT benefit a non-relative. If you wish a step-child, the person you live with, your best friend growing up, one of your in-laws, or any other non-relative to benefit from your estate, you must plan ahead.
Although we can discuss notable exceptions such as portability, if you fail to plan with a Will or other estate planning, you will generally NOT have a chance to do detailed tax or other planning. Also, you will likely NOT have other important documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney or Advanced Directive for Healthcare which can impact you while alive.
These are 5 important things that do NOT happen without a Last Will and Testament. They are obviously not every possible issue. And they relate to Oklahoma law – each state will have different details. If you have other thoughts or experiences on this topic, I would be interest in hearing.