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.