Sometimes, the smartest people make the dumbest decisions that they should know better than to make. It is amazing how sometimes those decisions work out. For example, President Abraham Lincoln was an excellent lawyer who did not have a Will when he passed away. He should have known better, but in his case everything worked out well for his estate.
His son, Robert, asked a family friend to administer the estate in rural Illinois. This friend was a lawyer who agreed to handle the estate without charging a fee. The friend also happened to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Justice was able to easily get the estate divided equally between Lincoln’s widow and the two surviving children. In today’s money, the estate was worth several million dollars. Things got even better for the estate as Congress voted to give Mrs. Lincoln a $25,000 donation, tax-free.
What this goes to show is that if you happen to be a much-loved, war-winning, assassinated President, then you can count on a Justice of the Supreme Court administering your Will and on Congress giving your spouse tax-free money. If that is not you, a Will would be a very good idea.
Duffy Law Office is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.