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Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest minds of the 19th century, died without a will.
Although the 16th President of the United States died unexpectedly at age 54, it may still seem surprising that the Great Emancipator did not take the time to execute a Last Will and Testament. However, it is much more common than you would think.
According to some estimates, approximately 51% of Americans ages 55 to 64 years old do not have a Last Will and Testament. And approximately 62% of Americans ages 45 to 54 do not have a will.
One major difference between Abraham Lincoln and 62% of the present-day Americans who do not have a will, is that Lincoln’s good friend, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, David Davis administered his estate.
Davis originally estimated Lincoln’s estate to be worth $85,000 in his initial filing, which would be comparable to millions of dollars today. When Justice Davis completed the administration of Lincoln’s estate in 1867, the value of the estate was ultimately found to be $110,296.80. Justice Davis declined all payment as the administrator of his friend’s estate, including reimbursements for his expenses.
If you die without a will in New York, your assets pass to your heirs by operation of the laws of intestacy. This means that that law, not you, determines who gets your assets when you die. There is no consideration of your specific life situation, your personal wishes, or any tax consequences involved in the distribution when you die without a will. There’s just a statute and your legacy.
So, unless you have a good friend on the U.S. Supreme Court who will diligently administer your estate for free, and you don’t mind a statute dictating who your assets are left to, you should make the time prepare an estate plan with the help of an experience estate planning attorney.
By Eric J. Einhart – Guest Blogger