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Do I need a Will or an Estate Plan?

John Worley - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No one wants to think about death – certainly not our own death, and especially not a premature death at a young age. For the vast majority, there is no reason to do so as most folks will live a long and healthy life. However, no one knows for sure how long they have and even though it is not a pleasant subject to think about, if you care about your family, you need to have an Estate plan. This is the only way you can make sure that they are cared for in the best manner possible when you are gone.

Some people think that if they are young and do not have much or are single, they do not need to have an Estate Plan. Most in that situation think – I don’t even have an Estate, so why would I need an Estate Plan? However, everyone has an Estate. Some have small estates with only a car and bank account, maybe a retirement account at work or a savings account. Even with a small Estate, it is important to have an Estate Plan.

So what is an Estate Plan? It is really just a set of documents that express your desires in the event you are incapacitated or die. If you don’t have an estate plan, it just means someone else – usually a judge in a court will decide for you – and it will probably cost a lot more money than it would if you have a will and powers of attorney. This is especially important if you have children, but it is best for everyone to make their own decisions about these important matters.

Most people have simple Estates and so all they need is a simple Estate Plan. In a simple estate plan, there should be 4 documents:

  1. A simple will
  2. A directive to Physicians
  3. A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
  4. A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

This combination of documents allows you to express your desires for your Estate. A simple will leaves all your Estate to your spouse or children if you have a family, or to whomever you specify otherwise. It also designates who will become guardian of your minor children. A directive to Physicians just tells the doctor whether you want to be kept alive on life support if you are in a terminal incurable condition. Durable Powers of Attorney let you designate who can make health care and financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

If you do not have these documents, a judge in a court will make these decisions for you and it will be costly, time consuming and frustrating to your loved ones at a very difficult time.

It is possible to prepare these documents for yourself, but they must be done carefully or they may not be valid. I will prepare the 4 basic documents for $350 for an individual or $600 for a couple. This may seem like a lot of money to some, but if your loved ones have to go to court in the event you are incapacitated or to probate your estate with no will, the cost could be in the thousands or even the ten thousands before it is all over.

The bottom line is to take steps to make sure your Estate and your family will be taken care of according to your wishes. Call me at 972-250-5877 or e-mail me at johnworley@johnworley.net to set up an appointment.

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