We have told you some stories about what happens when famous people pass away without having a Will. None of these stories have included an estate administration that went smoothly. It is not because we choose to only discuss smoothly administered estates. Rather, it is because they are rare. Rarely do the rich and famous pass away without a Will and have their estate administration go smoothly.
However, there is one example of such a thing happening. President Abraham Lincoln did not have a will when he was assassinated. His estate went as smoothly as an estate could possibly go. It was divided equally between his widow and surviving children. Of course, a Justice of the United States Supreme Court administered Lincoln’s estate at no cost and Congress donated tax-free money to Lincoln’s widow. When those things happen, an estate administration has the ability to be administered quite easily.
As fascinating as this story is, it is undoubtedly not the standard procedure when it comes to administering an estate where the person who passed away has failed to do any estate planning. You probably will not have a Supreme Court Justice to administer your estate, and it is unlikely that Congress will give your spouse tax-free donations. Thus, you should have a Will or a Living Trust to assure your affairs are settled without conflict, as you would want, and that the people of your choice inherit.
Without creating your own estate plan, you do not get to choose who receives your life savings. You also do not get to choose who is in charge of administering your estate. That decision is left up to the courts. Therefore, having a Will or Living Trust is essential if you would rather not let the courts decide what happens with your estate.