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No Will, No Plan, No Nothing

December 2, 2011 Douglas Davis

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”right” alt=”James Dean”]/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/James-Dean-changed.png[/image_frame][dropcap4 variation=”red”]J[/dropcap4]ames Dean was a Hollywood icon and one of the most famous men in the world when he died at age 24.  Success was easy for Dean and he enjoyed the best of everything the world had to offer while amassing a fortune as an actor in the film industry.

Amazingly, James Dean died without a Will.  I guess he thought that day would never come, or that it would come later in life after he had an opportunity to put all of his affairs in order.   Funny how we think that way too.

In many ways James Dean had a challenging life, his mother died when he was 9 and his father promptly abandoned him.  Life has its ironies though.  Dean died when he crashed head on into another driver who had crossed into his lane.  His entire estate, including licensing fees that still generate up to $3.0M annually, passed to his father.

Every state has laws about what happens when you die without a Will.  We call that “intestacy,” and it happens more often than not.   I don’t know what the exact statistics show but my experience would indicate that most people think they still have time; and then become incompetent or die before making provision for those they love.   In those cases, state law will govern the distribution of assets, often with unintended results.

If he had made a plan would James Dean have left his entire estate to the father who turned his back on him as a child?  Nobody knows, but he certainly had a choice.  We all have a choice and to leave that choice to the government may mean that like James Dean … at the end of the day, we have no Will, no plan, no nothing.