You might look at that and immediately think “Nothing!”. That would be the wrong answer. For you see, they both died intestate-that is, without a will. Over the years one question I always ask potential clients if they have a will and many times the answer has been “no”.
But even that is also the wrong answer. Every State has created a will for people who die intestate and in many cases who your State says will share in your estate may not be to your liking.
A will is nothing more than a document that tells someone you trust, called the trustee, and the Probate Court, to carry out your wishes in distributing your belongings when you die. Wills must be probated, which means that a court will decide if your wishes will be followed allowing the trustee to follow the instructions in your will. I am purposely being vague here because a will is not an air tight legal document.
Couples with under age children most definitely need a will because it is the document where you name the people you want to raise your children in case of the parents dying in a common accident.
Wills can work if your estate is simple. In cases which the estate is more complex, a Living Trust might be in order. A Living Trust avoids probate and its associated costs. Here is a one minute video that compares a will and a Living Trust: Click Here.
There is another reason to have, at minimum, a will. Without a will, whoever ends up as the executor of your estate will have to guess how to distribute your assets within the guidelines of the Probate Court. The job of the executor can be both time consuming and costly.
If you would like a list of the tasks that an executor of a will or trust must consider, click here. I believe you will be even more convinced that a will is a must.