What if you don’t have a will?

In some circumstances, not having a will in place at death won’t really matter. For example, if you are married, have two minor children, own ALL assets jointly with RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP with your spouse, have no debt, and you die with your spouse surviving, there is little difference between handling your estate with or without a will. This assumes, however, 1) that you intend for your spouse to inherit your entire estate, and 2) that you have the ability to predict the future with certainty that your spouse will survive you and be fit to continue caring for your minor children. If you are okay playing those odds, then you are okay without a will.

Another example of “okay without a will” is, of course, the unmarried adult with absolutely NO property. In that case, you are fine without a will. Obviously, if there is nothing to distribute, then a will is useless.

In light of the extremely limited circumstances under which having no will is okay, it is a legal responsibility to advise clients to put a will in place.  And if you are going to do that, you might as well plan for pre-death circumstances as well (i.e., illness, incapacity, incompetency, disability).

A good estate planning attorney should assist you in formulating a plan (to include pre-death and post-death considerations) to give full effect to your wishes as to the distribution of your property after death. There is no reason that you should not be able to get a free consultation so that you can find out the cost of your own estate plan, with no obligation, by discussing your specific life circumstances. Sometimes, there are several options to accomplishing the same goals, and you are entitled to find out what is available to you and at what cost.



April M. Burt is a transactional lawyer. Katherine Langley and Chad Anderson are trial lawyers. These Asheville-based attorneys focus their practice in the areas of business law, employment law, estate planning, and transactional law. They serve clients in the Western North Carolina communities located in Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, Madison, and surrounding counties.


Burt Langley, PC | 149 S. Lexington Avenue | Asheville, NC 28801 | P: 828-367-7090 | F: 828-318-8899