Ever wonder what happens when you die without a will?  Well you don’t need to wonder, you just need to pull up a few headlines in the newspaper to check out what has happened to the wealth of a famous person who died without a will.  That’s right.  If a famous person, say Pablo Picasso, dies in the same state as you …. well, the same thing will happen to your money as happened to his.  Why?  Because the state you live in, for me that would be the State of Georgia, has an estate plan waiting for you just dying to give away your money!  Whether you are famous or not!

Pablo Picasso died without a will or any kind of estate plan in 1973.  He died in Spain.  So only Spanish laws would apply to what happened to his estate, but IF he lived in Georgia, the laws of Georgia would control.  When he died, he was married.  He did not have any children with his then wife.  He did have one daughter with a wife who died several decades before him.  He also had at least 3 children with two women with whom he was never married.  When he passed, all of these individuals were likely entitled in some way to a part of his estate under laws called “intestacy laws.”  Intestacy laws are those laws that apply if you die without a Will (or a plan to distribute your assets at your death).

Picasso’s wealth, by the time he died at age 91, was estimated to be worth around $250 million dollars.  Picasso had four children, all of whom were alive when he died.  He was also married to his second wife.  If he had died in Georgia without a Will, this is what would have happened to his estate.

First, his wife (now his widow) would NOT inherit everything.  In Georgia that doesn’t happen if you don’t have a Will and you die intestate.  Generally speaking, his widow would be entitled to 1/3 of the $250 million dollar estate.  His four kid, then, would equally split up the remaining 2/3rds of the estate between themselves.

Most people are surprised when I tell them that in Georgia your spouse does NOT receive your entire estate when you die. Your spouse doesn’t inherit 100% here.  They share with kids, no matter how old your kids are when you die.  If your kids are 8, 18 or 28, your spouse will share the inheritance with them.  It does complicate matters if the kids are under the age of 18, however.  That means that there will likely need to be other types of court proceedings, such as a conservatorship, that happens so that your kid’s monies they receive as inheritance, is watched over by the court until they turn 18 years old.  Even if the spouse you leave behind when you die is the mom or dad and needs that money to help raise the underage, minor children.  Rules are rules, and the rules in Georgia are that a child under 18 can inherit, but not control, money and property.

We will never know if Picasso wanted his wife to inherit everything.  We won’t know if he wanted each of his 4 children and his nephew, who he apparently treated like a son, to inherit anything or everything.  In fact, according to family friend and lawyer, Picasso was superstitious about death which is why he wouldn’t draw up a Will.  Maybe it worked, he lived until he was 91.  Or maybe he just avoided making a choice of who would inherit his hard work.  Either way, it took years and an estimated 30 million dollars to sort out his estate and there are still ongoing disputes over certain aspects of his complicated estate.

It may be that you are superstitious.  Or it may be that you just haven’t gotten around to getting a Will.  Your estate may not be like Picasso’s, nobody’s estate is like Picasso’s.  But there is a chance that you have some ideas about what you want to have happen to your money and property, but like Picasso, you don’t have a Will or other estate planning documents in place to make sure there are not disputes and there are not surprises (such as your spouse not inheriting everything).

If so, we can help.  That’s all we do!   We help women protect who they love the most and we help women get wills in place to ensure their voice is heard after they pass away.