Do I need a Will?

Author: Wolfe Ossa lawCategories: Elder Law, Estate, Power of Attorney, Probate Law, Wills

The Question: Do I need a Will?

We get this question all the time from clients. And here is the answer I always give them. With every part of estate planning, Will, Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, the problem is, once you need it, you can no longer do it. Is it a gamble? Is it possible that you never ever wind up needing to rely on someone else to handle your bills, or make medical decisions? Sure, it’s definitely a gamble. But these documents are relatively inexpensive to do, so it seems like a no-brainer to take the chance out of the game and be sure.

If you don’t have a Will,  State laws will determine how your assets are distributed. Which may not be the way you would have done it. Additionally, if you don’t have a Will, then you haven’t named an executor. Which means that a loved one is going to need to go down to the Surrogate Court and apply to be in charge of your Estate. Then the Court is going to have to grant permission in order for him/her to make decisions. This extra work for your loved ones during an already stressful grieving period is avoided if you have a Will.

While you’re planning ahead, it only makes sense to also set up your Power of Attorney (POA) and Advanced Health Care Directive (Living Will) as well. If you don’t designate someone as your Power of Attorney or Representative, there could be major issues down the road. Let’s say you become forgetful or unable to manage your own affairs, and you don’t have someone designated, no one will have access to your accounts. If you cannot speak for yourself in a medical setting, Doctors will be unable to treat you. This means that someone is going to need to apply for guardianship over you. Which can cost thousands of dollars. Again, easily avoided by planning ahead.

The Answer: Depends….

So the answer is, technically, no you don’t NEED one, the government has set up defaults in order to make sure that assets are distributed. But SHOULD you have one? Yes, you definitely should.

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