Friendly Elder Law & Estate Planning Services

Fame, Fortune & Dying Without a Will

I was saddened to hear of the recent loss of Tony Hsieh, retired CEO of Zappos.  Under Mr. Hsieh’s leadership, Zappos went from $1.6M in revenue in 2000 to $1B in revenue in 2009.  It brought him fame and fortune. That fortune being $850M at the time of his death.

What really struck me as I read the news about him was the comment that Tony Hsieh passed away without having a will in place.  As any attorney that practices Elder Law, we know this happens frequently. People often die without a will in place, though, not usually at that level of wealth.

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

I’m sure you can see the questions surrounding this – who inherits the money, what happens to his assets, who will be the executor, how will this be resolved? And that is just the start.  In Mr. Hsieh’s case, being a resident of Nevada, the distribution of his assets will be determined by Nevada’s intestacy laws.

This certainly got me thinking.  As an Elder Law attorney, I encourage all my clients to have a Will or Trust as part of their Estate Plan. No one likes to think about the possibility of dying, but it is inevitable.  And, without having a plan in place, there can be serious consequences. If you die without a will, your assets may be distributed in a way different than you would have wanted, and your family may be left with a mess.

The Majority of Millenials Do Not Have a Will or Estate Plan in Place

But, there’s more to this.  79% of millennials do not have estate plans in place. They do not have healthcare directions done.  And, they have not designated a Power of Attorney for their fiscal or health decisions should something happen to them.

The age of information and technology has brought great wealth to many in the younger generations. With wealth comes tangible assets – property, investments, personal items and so much more.  Without the proper estate planning, one exposes themselves, their families, and their assets to the lengthy and costly probate process and otherwise avoidable death taxes.

An acquaintance recently told me that she had asked her 33-year-old nephew if he had a healthcare directive done.  His response was that he didn’t even know what that was.

There is a big hole here that needs to be filled.  For my part, I’ve started encouraging my clients to talk to their children and their grandchildren about the importance of having these documents in place. No matter what your age, if you die without a will it can have an unwanted outcome. It’s never too early to start planning for the future and speak with an estate planning attorney. If you have questions we invite you to book a free consultation now.

I’m sure there is more we can do to bring awareness of this to younger generations.  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to comment on this.


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I did some research and exploration and came upon the offices of Evergreen Elder Law. From the moment I spoke with the receptionist I felt respected, valued and regarded as an important client. I made an appointment for March 20, 2018. When I presented to their offices I spoke with someone who was sympathetic for my loss, confident that their offices could help and exuded competence. I was heartened to note that they were recognized as “Client Choice “Estate Law Office” for 2016.” And my experience with their offices made me a believer.


When my mother retired it became apparent we as a family needed help, Holland Mcburns was recommended by an acquaintance of the family. She was professional and very thorough and informative. I felt she was very up to date on the current opportunities that would best benefit my elderly mother, and make her retirement years worry free. After working with Mrs Mcburns, it was apparent that many people would benefit from her knowledge and dedication. I highly recommend her, and look forward to working with her on my estate planning.


Holland is very attentive and detail oriented. I felt well cared for, she returned calls promptly, and was always very sensitive to my needs. Holland gave me very good advice. She is very ethical and has legal services personalized to your needs.


Holland is a great listener and lawyer. When we came to her with our needs, she thoughtfully listened, was helpful with all our questions, and then explained our options. Her sense of humor helped us through some long waits with the system. In the end, we ended up with a surprisingly favorable settlement and a good friend in the courts.

Nadine and Mark Huck

Holland is truly one of the most sincere and professional attorneys I have come to know and over many years in the legal field. Her work is innovative in the complex area of estate planning and she strives to know the latest legal strategies to protect and represent her clients. Holland is dedicated to satisfying her clients’ needs and does it in a kind manner. She is a wonderful communicator both with her clients and with her colleagues. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of legal services.

Leesa Van Zandt

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Evergreen Elder Law is committed to helping you create comprehensive legal, financial, and physical security for you and your loved ones. Serving the Spokane, Tri Cities and Coeur d’Alene regions, we have the knowledge, compassion and professionalism to guide you in planning for the future, giving you peace of mind as you or a loved one makes important decisions for your family and future.

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