Wills and power of attorneys
Living will: Nobody expects to get so sick or injured that one cannot communicate. Many people have strong convictions about the type of care and treatment they want to receive, but without a living will and with their abilities severely impaired, they have no ability to make these kinds of decisions. What kind of care do they want? What kind of treatment will they accept or reject? Do they want life-saving measures when there is no hope of recovery? A hospital will do what it has to do, unless you have prepared written instructions in advance.
With a living will, you can give a limited power of attorney to a loved one who can ensure that your wishes are carried out. Without a living will, personal decisions as to your care may be left to a judge. Furthermore, there may be disagreements, for example, your spouse may argue that you did not want life-saving measures to be taken, but an adult child may argue otherwise. Such a long drawn out legal battle is unnecessary and expensive and would have been averted if you took steps in advance to ensure that your wishes were followed.
Simple wills: Sadly, catastrophes occur all the time and age is immaterial when it comes to dying. Preparing for this eventuality is important because if people don’t have a will, the law will allocate how money is distributed, and that might not be the way you want your assets distributed.
If you have assets, and you die, whatever intentions you may have had for your Estate are immaterial if you don’t prepare a will. For instance, children are not required to inherit if that is your desire, but without a will the law mandates that a child is a beneficiary. Children born out of wedlock have equal rights to a child born in a marriage. As another example, with people who have lived separate and apart for years, but never obtained a divorce, that surviving spouse will inherit a sizable portion of your estate.
With your pension plans, life insurance, or 401k you may designate a beneficiary for these plans. When parents are younger, often the single largest asset they have is life insurance. If both parents should die in a common disaster, their minor children may become the beneficiaries of a sizable some of money once they reach the age of eighteen. Most eighteen year olds are not financially well-educated. Creating a trust as a contingent beneficiary will allow you to ensure that the proceeds of your life insurance policy is used appropriately and handled by an individual you designate.
A will, or a formation of a trust, costs little compared to the problems and difficulties that will occur if you don’t take care of how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. Here at the Law Office of Marc R. Gordon, our attorneys can help you with your estate planning. Call us today at 215-600-1244 for a free consultation.