What Is Estate Planning and Why Should I Have It?
You may think that your income, assets, and bank accounts don’t warrant the creation of a will. But are you really willing to give up the control you have over the distribution of your assets, no matter how small, or the ability to say who will care for your minor children?
In Nebraska, your assets will be distributed, no matter how much (or how little) you own. That distribution can be via your own will or trust, or through the drawn-out Nebraska intestate (dying without a will) probate process. And the intestate probate process, in addition to being expensive, takes none of your wishes into account.
What’s the Risk of Not Planning My Estate?
In Nebraska (as in many other states), a person who dies without having a will or other plan in place is subject to his or her assets being distributed under the intestacy laws of the State.
This means your things will be divided the way the State wants, rather than how you want! It also means that people who you didn’t even know (or like) may be entitled to some of your assets after death, while those who were like family to you might get nothing.
Let’s look at Nebraska’s intestacy laws. Distribution of your assets depends on several factors: whether you are married or not, whether you have children or not, and whether there are any living relatives that can be identified. In simplest form (and it’s not really simple), here are some of the possible outcomes:
- Unmarried, No Children: Entirety of your estate goes to your parents (if both alive). If only one or no parent is living, estate divided among surviving parent and siblings (including half-siblings). If no surviving parents or siblings, goes to your grandparents or their heirs (likely your aunts, uncles or cousins).
- Unmarried, Children: Estate goes to children divided equally. If any child passes before you do, their share goes to their children.
- Married, No Children: If your parents are not surviving, your spouse receives your entire estate. If you are survived by your parents, your spouse receives the first one hundred thousand dollars of value in your estate, plus one half the balance of your estate; the rest goes to your parent or parents in equal shares.
- Married, Children: If all children are from your spouse, your spouse receives the first one hundred thousand dollars of value in your estate, plus one half the balance of your estate; the rest goes to your children in equal shares. If any children outside the marriage, your spouse gets one-half of the estate, and your children get one half of the estate.
- Domestic Partners/Unmarried Couples: These relationships are not recognized in Nebraska. Therefore, the estate would be distributed as if you were a single person.
- No Living Relatives Found: Everything you owned goes to the state.
If you really want your books to go to your best friend, or your musical instrument to the aunt who paid for your lessons, you need to take steps to make that happen. Getting it down on paper today is a great start!
If you have questions about planning your estate, don’t hesitate to call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234. Our Omaha-based legal team would be happy to help you set up a will, trust, or other form of estate plan.
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