We all know we need one. In fact, it's probably been on your list for years. But for over half of adults in the US, it still isn't done. Yet! If it seems complicated, you can relax, it really consists of just three documents - a will, a living will, and power of attorney.
The first document you’ll create is a will (short for “last will and testament”). This is a state-specific, legally binding document that says what happens to your money and property and defines:
This document goes by a few different names (advance healthcare directive, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision), but no matter what you call it, it says what end-of-life medical care you want, like:
Your POA designates one or more people who have the authority to make decisions for you. You can split up duties, such as having one person make medical decisions while a different one makes financial ones in certain scenarios:
Dying without a will (or having one that no one can find) is a super bad idea. In legal terms, it’s known as “dying intestate.” If this happens, your assets go into probate, where your state has laws that dictate who gets what. Typically, if you’re legally married, it all goes to your spouse. But not always and, frankly, sometimes things can get pretty weird. After all, if you don’t really see eye-to-eye on everything with your state in life, don’t expect the situation to be any different in death. Besides, probate can take years, and your estate may have to pay attorney fees and other things, which are best avoided.
Typically people start with the will, because if you think about it, that’s the only document that’s guaranteed to get some use.
We think so. You need a process, like GYST’s, that can ensure you avoid these common mistakes:
Whether or not you need or should have one really depends on which state you live in and your individual situation. Trusts are often set up and included in a will because they help you avoid probate and get your assets more quickly into the hands of those you want to have them.
While you are not required to have an attorney to draft a will, there are circumstances where doing it yourself may lead to problems. If any of the following circumstances are true about you, the America Bar Association advises consulting one:
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"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." - Mae West