Every adult should have a Will, especially upon becoming a parent. If you have children that are not of adult age, or have an adult child that is developmentally disabled, a Will is that much more important. It is the document that allows you to name who you choose to serve as guardian should you pass away first.
Some incorrectly believe a power of attorney is sufficient to name who handles their affairs after they pass away. However, the authority given in a power of attorney automatically ends at death. A power of attorney will not help make sure your wishes are carried out after you pass.
A Will is the document that allows you to state who will receive your things after your passing. In a Will, you name your personal representative (sometimes called an “executor”) to carry out those wishes. If you do not have a Will, the law will dictate how your things are distributed.
Several years ago, a widowed friend of mine told me she intended to create a Will. However, she never actually followed through. She had no surviving parents or siblings. The only family she had was her son, who she wanted to receive her property and belongings.
As too often occurs, she passed away unexpectedly. When meeting with her son, he told me something that completely altered who would receive her estate. He told me that he was her son because she “informally” adopted him many years ago. He was not her biological son; nor had he ever been legally adopted.
Under the government’s rules, their relationship did not matter. He had no right to any of her estate. Instead, her estate went to distant relatives with whom she had no meaningful relationship.
This result would have been completely different if she had completed a Will. Her son would have received everything regardless of how the government defined their relationship.
Estate planning is far too important to leave to good intentions. Come to a free presentation to find out how a few simple steps will help ensure your estate is handled the way you want.