Drawing up a will is something that most people know they should do. However, for one reason or another, many never get around to doing it. Moreover, when they die, it often leaves major legal issues for their loved ones to sort out.
When a person dies without a will, it is referred to as intestate. We hear story after story about families locked in major battles over a family member's estate, which often results in a manner that the deceased person would not have wanted. The only legal choice, however, is the one made by the court because there was no will.
This is the case with the estate of the late granddaughter of actor Morgan Freeman. Last August, the 33-year-old woman was stabbed to death. Her estate included a condo, worth approximately $800,000, that Freeman had purchased. When the young woman was murdered, she was not married, nor did she have any children or siblings. She also died intestate. According to New York law, where the young woman lived, her estate will go to her mother and father because she did not have a will.
However, according to an affidavit filed by Freeman in an attempt to bar the girl's father from inheriting anything, his granddaughter had only seen her father a handful of times in the past 30 years. Additionally, it is noted that the father had not contributed any financial support as the young woman was growing up, and was nothing more than a “deadbeat dad.”
If Freeman's granddaughter had lived in Illinois at the time of her murder, the same scenario would apply. When a person dies intestate, the rules in this state are as follows:
- If the deceased had children but no spouse, the children will inherit the entire estate;
- If the deceased had a spouse but no children, the spouse inherits the entire estate;
- If the deceased had a spouse and children, the spouse inherits half of the estate and the children inherit the other half;
- If the deceased had parents, but no spouse, children, or siblings, the parents inherit the entire estate;
- If the deceased had siblings, but no spouse, children, or parents, the siblings inherit the entire estate; and
- If the deceased had parents and siblings, the parents and siblings all inherit equal shares of the estate. If only one parent is living, however, then that parent inherits a double share.
The tragedy of the murder of Morgan Freeman's granddaughter is made more tragic because her family has to engage in a legal battle against her estranged father because there was no will. This case highlights that a person is never too young nor too old to have a will. If you need assistance with a will, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney today.