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Published: June 26, 2019

Are the deaths of popular icons causing an awareness of mortality among people and as a result they begin planning for their own deaths? That is a question that I had never really thought of in the wake of the already horrific world that we find ourselves living in from day to day. Honestly, if terrorist attacks and drive-by shootings can’t raise awareness of the mortality and unpredictability of human life, then what can. However, a recent write up from the Mirror website in the United Kingdom (http://bit.ly/2b68fIC) indicates that the recent deaths of Prince and David Bowie have spurred the 22-year-old Justin Bieber to begin the planning process for his elaborate funeral and the distribution of his estate. Bieber is supposedly planning for a “solar-powered headstone that plays video.”

Bieber and many like him are deciding to not be one of the statistics who die intestate and leave their estates to be distributed by the courts after a good deal of family in-fighting. In an article from Forbes.com from April of this year (http://bit.ly/2aMa9M0), they name 17 stars who died without wills and the first name on the list is, of course the most recent, Prince Rogers Nelson. Other notables who died with no will: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimi Hendrix, Pablo Picaso, Howard Hughes, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, “Sonny” Bono, Barry White, Stieg Larsson, James Brown, Steve McNair, Nate Dogg, Amy Winehouse, and Michael Jackson.

While these stars left things unplanned, this same article indicates that 64% of Americans are doing the same by not having a will. For those between the ages of 45-54 the number soars to 70% and 27% of those between the ages of 45-54 “don’t feel that it’s [a will] urgent.”

So what happens in the State of Georgia when someone dies without a will? According to the nolo.com website, “If you die without a will in Georgia, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws.” Additionally, “only assets that would have passed through your will are affected by intestate succession laws. Usually, that includes only assets that you own alone, in your own name.” Other assets, such as 401(k) proceeds, life insurance proceeds, and property you own in “joint-tenancy” with someone else “pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will.”

So how does intestate suggestion work? Who gets what in Georgia? If you died with children but no spouse, your children inherit everything. If you die with a spouse but no descendants, your spouse inherits everything. If you die with a spouse and descendants, your spouse and descendants equally share the intestate property, but the spouse’s share may not be less than 1/3. If you die with parents but no spouse or descendants, parents inherit everything. If you die with siblings, no spouse, descendants, or parents, your siblings inherit everything. There are many other details examined by nolo.com concerning intestate succession in Georgia that can be found here: http://bit.ly/2aLpVYQ.

At Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home we constantly work with families who’s loved one’s have not planned for their deaths. The stresses already involved in the funeral planning process are already overwhelming and an intestate loved one complicates things further. Our preneed planner, Kari Saunchegraw, can guide you through the process of planning for your funeral and burial; however, it is wise to seek counsel from a lawyer or estate planner to properly execute the documents necessary for your will and estate succession plan. For more information on how Kari can help you with your funeral preplanning needs, please call 770-786-7062.


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