Does every single person need a will? Yes, everyone should have a will or some other legal estate plan in place. A comprehensive will or trust doesn’t just address your estate, it also includes critically important items, such as healthcare decisions and custody arrangements for minor children. This is your opportunity to truly establish your wishes and have them implemented. You should know the facts about wills and why they are such an important piece of estate planning. If you do not already have a will in place, it’s not too late.
What a Will Can Do for You
A will gives instruction regarding how to disburse your estate when you die. You can divide and distribute your estate to your children, loved ones, favorite charities and however else you choose.
A will can work hand-in-hand with a healthcare power of attorney (POA). A healthcare POA nominates a representative to make healthcare decisions for you in the event of severe illness or incapacitation. If you were in a car accident and suffered major medical issues that left you unable to make decisions about your ongoing care, who would make those decisions for you? Proper estate planning gives you the opportunity to assign those responsibilities to someone you trust.
A living will is one of many different types of wills and allows you to communicate your end-of-life preferences. You can specify if you would like to participate in organ donation. You can also express your wishes for life support and burial services. Use this tool to let your loved ones and doctors know what types of end-of-life treatments you do and do not want. Thorough estate planning gives you the opportunity to be as specific as you want.
You can use a will to establish custody of your minor children. If you have children under the age of 18, this is your opportunity to designate their caregiver in the event of your death. Keep in mind, if their other biological parent is still living, and is capable, he or she will usually receive full custody. If that parent is unfit, it is important that you make other arrangements for your children for their physical and financial care. Without a will in place, in the event of your death, the courts will decide where to place your children. If there are no living relatives that are willing and able to take on the responsibility, they could end up in foster care.
You can change or replace your will as needed. If there is a birth or death in the family, your will may need to be changed. You can either amend your will or replace it altogether relatively easily. An amendment can be done by creating a codicil. If you decide to create a new will, be certain to destroy all of the originals and any copies that may exist to avoid creating any confusion. In the new will, be sure that you specifically revoke all previous wills. If you allow multiple copies of your various wills to exist, it can cause confusion and fighting among your loved ones. It could also lead to the court invalidating the wrong will. When updating or replacing an estate document, it is important to be thorough.
Why It’s Never Too Late to Make Your Will
Whether you are 18 or 88 years old, you should always retain the right to control your estate. If you do not have a will or other estate plan in place, the state will dictate how your estate is handled. Do you trust the state to distribute your hard-earned wealth and to nominate the best person to make decisions for you in the event you can’t make them for yourself? Don’t leave these difficult decisions to the government to decide.
Whether you have children, a spouse or are a happily single person, a will allows you to maintain control and appoint the right people to execute your wishes and speak on your behalf if needed. It is never too late to make your wishes known and use the legal tools available to you. Schedule an appointment with me and I will help you make the most of those tools.