It’s rather astonishing when celebrities, professional athletes, and other famous or wealthy individuals do not leave a will. A will states one’s wishes as to how property is to be distributed at death, and names an executor or executors to manage the estate until its final distribution. This year’s untimely death of a famed musician – and no will – mean his family members must use the court system to lay claim to his assets. Surprisingly, more than 50% of American adults do not have will.
A will is one of three essential planning documents that every adult should have. The others are a power of attorney and an advance medical directive. Living will is another name for an advance medical directive, meaning the document has no power after death. A living will lets people state their wishes for end-of-life health care in the case they become unable to communicate their decisions. Prince could have easily become incapacitated due to a drug overdose. In fact, any of us can become incapacitated at any time due to an accident or illness.
Power of attorney authorizes a person —known as the agent—to represent or act on another’s behalf regarding either medical and/or business affairs. Healthcare decisions are important, but so are financial decisions. The elderly or the incapacitated may need assistance with money management ranging from simple to complex tasks. Indeed, many boomers are starting to observe situations where their parents should not be writing checks, much less overseeing their retirement plan investments.
Although the reality of aging, possible incapacity, and eventual death is uncomfortable for many of us, there is no need to fear or dread the drafting of these crucial documents. An experienced estate planning and elder law attorney will walk you through the process by posing a series of thoughtful questions. Whether your possessions are modest or those of a rock star, let a professional help you leave a legacy of love.