“Intestacy” means that someone died without a will. If he had a will, he could have exercised his judgment to determine if his youngest child was mature enough to handle her inheritance. Likewise, he could have appointed his quiet but strong brother as executor of the estate rather than open up the possibility that his loud-mouthed no-good son might apply for appointment by the probate court as administrator. The administrator under intestacy will have to be bonded at a cost of at least $100, while an executor under a will could have been made exempt from the same requirement.

Intestacy does not have to be bad, but it can lead to complications that could have been avoided. Under intestate succession, relatives are allocated shares of the estate based upon status rather than need. Widows and orphans are most favored, followed by close blood kin. The disabled child and his well-to-do sister get equal shares.

About 49,000 will die this year in Alabama, and about 70,000 in Georgia, and most will die intestate. Estate planning is the “preventive medicine” for families.