It is not uncommon for married people to fail to create an estate plan. Often, this failure occurs because married individuals believe, “I don’t need a will because everything will go to my spouse with or without one.” This is one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to estate planning. In reality, it is important for everyone, even married persons, to create an estate plan.
There is some truth to the misconception. If a person owns all property jointly with his or her spouse, and if his or her spouse is named as the beneficiary on all of his or her accounts, then it is likely that his or her spouse will receive all of his or her assets upon death. Alternatively, if you own assets individually, or have failed to make proper beneficiary designations for your accounts, your estate may not be distributed how you had hoped.
It is vital to remember that if you fail to draft a will, your estate will be distributed under state laws called intestacy statutes. Under intestacy statutes, the surviving spouse often receives only half of the intestate estate, and the rest is distributed between the children. Moreover, if the surviving spouse was not the decedent’s first spouse, he or she will often receive even less of the estate.
Rather than taking the chance that everything will work out, it is important to at least draft a simple estate plan that includes a will.