Although you may think you don’t need an estate plan, you may want to rethink that thought.
The purpose of an estate plan is to get as much of what you have when you die to the people you want it to go to.
Many couples think they do not need an estate plan because, as they put it, “we don’t have much” or they have titled most of their assets as “jointly with right of survivorship”, especially real estate .
In regard to the first thought, if in fact you don’t “have much”, it may be even more important that you “get it right” and have an appropriate estate plan than if you had “much”.
As to the second thought, even if most of your assets are titled “survivorship”, there are always some that are not.
Second, and more important, is what happens when the surviving spouse passes away? If they do not have a will, then property will pass to ther heirs. That may be what you want to happen, but it may not be. Also you won’t know who is going to be responsible for administering your estate and settling your affairs as you would if you have a Will.
A Will is only one part of a complete estate plan. Everyone should also have a financial power of attorney to give authority to one or more persons you know and trust to handle your business and financial affairs while you are alive, but have developed some mental or physical condition that prevents you from doing so at all or, at least, conveniently.
A properly prepared health care power of attorney grants someone who you know and trust the authority to make all health care decisions for you if you are not able to do so because of a mental or physical condition, including major health care decisions.
Not a week goes by that our law firm doesn’t get a call from someone who is at the hospital and says we need a power of attorney for “Aunt Jane” who had a stroke last night and is now is a coma. These persons are always surprised when we tell them “I am sorry, but it’s too late!” If “Aunt Jane’s” condition doesn’t improve without a financial power of attorney, someone will have to go to District Court and have a guardian appointed for her and that person will then be under the constant supervision of the Court.
Another thing to consider is a health care power of attorney. Financial powers of attorney usually do not deal with health care matters and, if they do, touch upon them only superficially.
A properly prepared health care power of attorney grants someone who you know and trust the authority to make all health care decisions for you if you are not able to do so because of a mental or physical condition, including major health care decisions. We recommend a health care power of attorney in any case, but particularly if you have a current chronic medical condition or are elderly.
Last, but certainly not least, an estate plan should definitely include a living will directive. This is a document in which you can set forth your desires concerning “artificial life support” and organ donation.
Most people do not want to be kept alive artificially if there is no probability, from a medical standpoint, that they are going to stay alive without the artificial life support. However, if you do not have a living will directive setting forth your desires in this regard, you will be put on, or kept on, artificial life support indefinitely.
In a living will directive, you can also state your desires regarding organ donation. You can state you do not want to donate any organs at all, or that you want to for any reason or purpose, including medical research, or that you want to but only for transplantation purposes.
Whether rich or poor, young or old, the responsible thing to do for your family and persons of special interest to you is to have a properly prepared estate plan. The cost of having it done is not as much as you might think - and is well worth the cost!
Don’t wait! Contact us at White Peck Carrington to schedule an appointment to discuss your desires and needs regarding estate planning with our experienced estate planning attorneys
Call us at (859) 498-2872 for an appointment to discuss the above, or other, matters.