What Happens If A Person Dies Without A Will?

Continuing our look at the specific estate and probate planning articles available on the website, today we will discuss the Intestacy provisions in Nebraska.

First, intestacy is the legal term for when a person, hereafter called a decedent, dies without a will.  Intestacy may be complete or partial; some property may transfer, such as property owned in joint tenancy or a bank account with a named beneficiary.

The rules of intestacy are mostly established by statutes enacted by the state legislature.  Those rules, which determine who will receive the property of the decedent, depend upon the degree of the relationship (e.g. child, sibling, parent) with the decedent.

Let’s look at some scenarios and possible outcomes:

Surviving Spouse:

If there are no living issue of the decedent and if there are no living parents of the decedent, the surviving spouse takes everything.

However, if there is a surviving parent(s) or surviving issue, the surviving spouse takes the first $100,000 and half the remainder of the estate.

Alternatively, if there are surviving issue and at least one of the surviving issue is not the issue of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse takes only half of the estate, without taking $100,000 off the top.

Other Heirs:

If there are issue of the decedent, they take first, equally by representation.  This means if the issue are the same degree of kinship (for example, all children of the decedent), they take equally.  If the issue are different degrees of kinship, they take by representation.  In other words, if there are two surviving children and one predeceased child who had three children of his own, the two surviving children would each receive one-third and the three grandchildren would each receive one-ninth (the predeceased child’s one-third share divided equally among his three children).

If there are no surviving issue, the decedent’s estate goes to the decedent’s parents equally.

If there are no surviving issue or parents, the decedent’s estate goes to the issue of the parents by representation (e.g. brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews etc.).

If there are no surviving issue, parent(s), or issue of parent(s), half the estate goes to paternal grandparents or their issue and half to the maternal grandparents and their issue.  If one side has no relatives (i.e. no grandparents or issue of grandparents) then all of the estate goes to the other side.  The issue of grandparents take equally if they are the same degree of kinship or by representation otherwise.  For example, if the next of kin are an aunt and the children of a predeceased uncle, the aunt would take one-half of the estate and the children of the predeceased uncle would each receive one-quarter of the estate.

Beyond this point, we get into the concept of laughing heirs and if no such laughing heirs exist, the estate transfers to the state.

If you have any further questions, about how to avoid an intestate situation or the probate process in general, please contact us — we’re happy to answer questions!


Organic Certification Cost Share Available for 2015

The USDA recently announced that availability of funds for organic certification cost-sharing assistance for organic producers and handlers via state departments of agriculture.  For certification-related costs incurred from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, the program can cover up to 75% of an individual producer’s or handler’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification.

The USDA also recently provided four simple steps for receiving cost-share assistance:

1.  If you are not yet certified, contact a certifier and get certified;

2.  If you already have your certification, contact your state agency;

3.  Submit your information — a short application and tax form, proof of certification, and itemized expenses; and

4.  Get reimbursed by your state agency.

Producers and handlers should contact their local agency via the information on the National Organic Programs’ cost share website.  The local agency can provide guidelines and requirements for reimbursement of expenses.

For additional information, contact Dana Stahl, USDA Organic Certification Cost Share Program Manager, Dana.Stahl@ams.usda.gov, (202) 690-3169  or Rita Meade, USDA Organic Certification Cost Share Coordinator, Rita.Meade@ams.usda.gov, (202) 260-8636.  Additional information is also available on the NOP cost-sharing website.


Value-Added Producer Grants Now Open for Applications

The USDA is making available approximately $30 million in funding for agricultural producers, including beginning farmers, to implement value-added enterprises.  The information about applying for the grant is available in the Notice of Funding Opportunity but a few highlights:

  • The maximum award per grant is $250,000 for working capital and $75,000 for planning activities;
  • The grant requires a one-to-one match.  In other words, for every dollar of grant funds, the applicant must provide a dollar in matching funds;
  • Funding priorities are available for beginning, socially disadvantaged, operators of small and medium-sized farms and ranches structured as family farms or ranches, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and projects proposing to develop a Mid-Tier Value Chain (definitions can be found here);
  • Applications are due July 7, 2015 with an anticipated start date of September 30, 2015; and
  • Projects can be up to 36 months, depending upon complexity.

We’ve previously discussed value added grants; however, the Notice of Funding Opportunity is for fiscal year 2015.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us — we’re always here to help!

Reminder – Conservation Compliance Certification Due June 1

As many of you likely know, the 2014 Farm Bill requires farmers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (AD-1026) by June 1 to become or remain eligible for crop insurance premium support.

If you already participate in USDA programs, such as marketing assistance loans, disaster programs, or the like, you more than likely already have the form on file.  However, it doesn’t hurt to ensure that the form is on file at your local USDA center or check in with your crop insurance agent if you have additional questions.