Do you need a Will? Yes!

According to Forbes.com, 65% of Americans do not have a Will.

We have heard many varying reasons why an individual might forgo the estate planning process. These reasons include: expense; they don’t have assets to protect; they simply trust a particular person ‘to take care of it’; and, in some instances, they have a sincere belief that they will die after making a Will.

Despite these misconceptions, making a Will is a very important task that EVERYONE – no matter your age – should do. Also, doing so is not overly complicated or expensive, nor is there a proven correlation between making a Will and dying!

There are many reasons to make a Will, but here are a few to consider:

  • ENSURE that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, and when you want.
  • MAKE the administration of your estate run smoothly.
  • CHOOSE a person to administer your estate.
  • REDUCE estate taxes.
  • APPOINT a person to take your place as the guardian of your minor children.

*An additional, special consideration is that in the past 5 years, the number of unmarried couples has jumped, says the National Marriage Project’s 2011 report. There are numerous factors that contribute to this statistic, but the reality is that many are committed – with or without children – but definitely without protections under the laws of intestacy.
Intestacy refers to a circumstance where an individual dies without a Will and there assets pass to their heirs at law in accordance with the intestacy statute.
Estate planning documents are especially importance in this circumstance. A Will can legally define relationships and wishes. This is especially important for same-sex partners.

*Parents of minor children can name their wishes for a guardian for their children in a Will ONLY.
No matter the bounds of your estate, it is most important to ensure that you control naming the person who would be best to be your children’s caretaker in the unfortunate circumstance that you cannot do so.

Planning for Incapacity – Save time, money and heartache.
Unfortunately, many individuals will experience a period of incapacity at some point during their lifetime. Although we many first think of the elderly as incapacitated persons, the reality is that sometimes circumstances arise which causes incapacity even in very young, once-vibrant individuals. Certain individuals come to mind – Terri Schiavo and Karen Ann Quinlan are a couple of special woman who attracted the media.
I hope you never are faced with such circumstances, but I would definitely suggest that everyone should have certain documents in place, just in case. Every client should consider executing a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will. It is in your best interest for your welfare and for the well-being of your loved ones.
It is very important to make these decisions while you can – while you are cool, calm and collected. The alternative to having these documents in place is court involvement by way of a guardianship proceeding, which is heavy in expense, time and heartache.
Why a Power of Attorney?
No one can represent your financial interests without court order, unless you have a written power of attorney, not even a person’s spouse.
Further, signing a Power of Attorney document will:

  • SAVE time and money;
  • Allow you to CHOOSE the person(s) you want to act on your behalf;
  • AVOID family disputes;
  • AVOID having a stranger handle your financial matters.

Why a Living Will?
A Living Will allows you to name a representative that you TRUST to make medical decisions for you and to express your desires regarding medical measures you do or do not wish for.

*Other names for a Living Will might include: Medical Directive, Health Care Proxy, Advanced Directive, or Medical Power of Attorney.
Further, signing a Living Will document will:

  • SAVE time and money;
  • Allow you to CHOOSE the person(s) you want to act on your behalf;
  • PREVENT problems that may arise between family members;
  • AVOID having a painful hospital dispute resolution or court involvement.
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