Uncomfortable conversations… of the many worth having, here’s one.
While a large percentage of Americans do not have any estate plan documents, I suspect that percentage is particularly large for young, single, adults. We have seen a number of difficult cases where a young, single, adult dies, and the laws of intestacy (where there is no Will) govern who receives the estate, which is a messy and costly affair at best, and in many cases bestows a windfall on persons other than those the deceased would have wanted to inherit the estate. Similar problems arise if such a person loses capacity to manage their affairs. Without a valid power of attorney (for financial matters) and health care directive (appointing a person to manage health care decisions), the legal proceedings required to get a person appointed can be costly, time consuming, and traumatizing as loved ones argue over who should be appointed by a Court to serve as conservator. And again, the wishes of the incapable person may not be known, or if known, honored. The powers of an agent under a power of attorney can be made to become effective only at such time as the person is determined incapable, which should give a young person some comfort knowing it is unlikely the powers being given, will ever spring to life. The powers of a health care representative are only valid when a person has been determined unable to make their own health care decisions. We’ve been watching old episodes of “House” lately… a series we greatly enjoyed… possibly what is bringing this to mind at this time.
Question. Will my Will (or trust) govern how my estate passes?
Answer. Maybe not, if you own substantially all your assets jointly with another, or such assets have beneficiary designations pursuant to which the asset will pass.
Remember the old “It’s ten o’clock, do you know where your children are?” announcement made on TV… a few hours before the TV began showing the Flag and transmission ceased… An estate planner might ask… “If you are no longer a spring chicken… do you know where your estate plan documents are?”
Our best wishes to you. We hope you find the articles of interest. Please remember they are for general informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please see an experienced estate planning attorney before adopting any estate plan.