The passing of actor Chadwick Boseman on August 28, 2020 shocked the world. Mr. Boseman was known for starring in films such as 42, Marshall, and Black Panther . Shocking to estate planners, he died without a Will according to recent probate filings .
Passing without a Will is a surprisingly common. It occurs regardless of finances or social status. In the State of Indiana, Ind. Code 29-1-2-1 controls that situation. Under that statute, in the case of someone passing leaving a first spouse and one child, the child and the surviving spouse will split the net estate. In the case of a first spouse, no children, and both parents still alive, the surviving spouse receives three-quarters of the net estate, and the parents split the remaining one-quarter. The statute refers to the “net estate” because there are often debts, taxes, and expense that need to be paid. Additionally, under Ind. Code 29-1-4-1, the surviving spouse can claim a $25,000.00 spousal allowance. We deduct all of these before calculating the “net estate”.
Most spouses do not expect or desire this. The fulfillment of the testator’s goals in a predictable way with minimal stress and expense is the heart of a good estate plan. In the modern world, this often involves beneficiary designations, dealing with real estate and vehicles and where possible, avoiding the time, expense, and publicity of probate altogether. A complete estate plan is the best means to that end.
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