The SafeEstates Blog

Have All the Heirs Been Accounted For?

How do you know when you should update your existing will? We have a client who called us from Florida. His cousin’s employer called and notified him that his cousin had passed away from a sudden heart attack. The good news is that his cousin executed a will before she died. Unfortunately, she executed it ten years earlier and the Personal Representatives and all of her named beneficiaries had predeceased her! The cousin had no living spouse, child, grandchild, parent, sibling, nephew, or niece – nada! So, what does this mean for our client’s cousin’s (the decedent’s) estate? Fortunately, all was not lost. There are laws that dictate who has preference to manage your estate (your administrator) and who will inherent from your estate (your heirs) if you do not list beneficiaries in a will—or if they predecease you as we have here.
After a thorough search and the help of a handwritten family tree, four cousins on the decedent’s maternal side who live in New York inherited fifty percent of the estate, split equally among the four, and our client from Florida who is related on the paternal side, inherited the other fifty percent of the decedent’s estate. The question does remain, however, if this is how the decedent would have wanted her estate to be divided? Because she did not update her will, we will never know.
Do you have a will that reflects your current wishes? If you’ve had a recent life change (birth, death, change in property or business), I encourage you to review and make changes to your existing estate plan and make it a Safe Estate plan. Contact our office if we can help you in any way.
~ Julie Alley