Many Americans, including in Texas, are not certain how their estate should be divided after death, per a 2016 Gallup survey. Well over half of all Americans also do not have a simple will. Going without a will may raise complications for persons who are single without children, unmarried couples living together, or even married couples without kids.
That is because the intestate laws that set forth how the estate shall be divided when there is no will may be inadequate. They may in some cases bring about a result that was not intended by the decedent. For example, when a single person dies, different relatives and friends may challenge the designations set by law or may claim to be relatives who are entitled to inherit under those laws.
The problem is seen most clearly in the case of the untimely death of the wealthy entertainer, Prince. His estate was riddled with contested battles dealing with individuals who claimed to inherit under the intestate laws. Determining who was factually related to the star singer was a daunting task for the probate court. The estate lost excessive amounts of money and the division of assets was held up for a long time. With even a simple will, however, Prince could have designated those chosen to inherit by name and relationship, and the problems would have been avoided.
Every estate in Texas and elsewhere needs at least a simple will and a power of attorney drawn up during the estate planning process while the testator is alive. The power of attorney serves the purpose of providing a representative for the testator should he or she become incapacitated and incompetent to handle his or her own affairs during life. The power of attorney serves the critical need of getting the right person into position with authority to make decisions and expenditures on behalf of the testator. Otherwise, the estate may incur excessive fees and costs in having a guardian or conservator appointed by the court.
Source: finance.yahoo.com, "Estate Planning Is Important for People Without Children", Debbie Carlson, Feb. 16, 2017