There once was a little cabin in the woods. Small, but lovely, sitting waterfront on Table Rock Lake. Husband and wife bought it together when they were younger and looked forward to bringing their son there as he grew up. But as 60% of families do these days, husband and wife divorced. Wife received the cute little cabin in the divorce decree and kept it for her and the son to use. The years went on and wife did not plan. She got sick and passed away. Her son was her only heir and was able to transfer the house through probate (we won’t go into that long drawn-out story – because that is what all probates are… long and frustrating).
In any case, son got the house and continued to own it until he tragically died at a fairly young age. We realize that many people in their forties and fifties have more fun things and kids on their minds, usually focused on paying for college or all the toys (that new wake boat??) they want to enjoy while they are young. But let’s be real, if you can spend all those thousands on college, or the new Suburban or that fancy wake boat, then it’s worth a few thousand to protect those assets, isn’t it?
So…needless to say, the law says that if a child dies (in this case unmarried) with a living parent, that parent inherits. So dad, who turned over the property in the divorce, now owns the little cabin again. Only this time, dad had remarried. Now dad and the new wife decided to keep the cabin and use it for their own enjoyment for the next few years. Until just last year, dad also died. By both inheritance and marital law, in this case dad had no living children and no other estate plan, new wife inherits everything. So, in the end, she and her own children and grandchildren are thoroughly enjoying this lovely place … but his first wife is rolling over in her grave I am sure.
What’s the moral of this story?? Make sure YOU decide what happens to your assets, NOT the courts. It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be done!
THOMAS WALTERS LAW GROUP… Protecting Your Wishes, Your Family, Your Legacy.