Why should you have a will?

 

Many people tell me that they don’t need a will because everything is in a joint account or everything will go to their spouse.  And I always tell them, “You should still have a will.”

 

If you don’t have a will, your property will pass by intestate succession, the rules of which vary by state. Many people believe that their property will just go to their spouse or their children and in intestate succession that is not always the case. A portion will go to your spouse, but if you have grown children, a portion may go to them.  It gets even more complicated if your children have children and one of them predeceases you. Things can be complicated further if your spouse dies at the same time or shortly after you do.  What if you and/or your spouse have children from a previous relationship?  Without a will, all or some of your property/possessions could end up going to your spouse’s relatives.

 

Not only does a will ensure that your property/possessions go to your loved one in an amount you desire for each person to have, but it also can name who the executor will be and allow the executor to avoid some court oversight and payment of bond.

 

In sum, everyone should have a will even if you don’t have a lot of property.  If nothing else a will can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be taken care of and that your loved ones will be taken care of and not have to deal with extra stresses after you pass away.


What/Who is a Personal Representative (PR) or Executor of a Will? 

The Personal Representative (PR) or Executor is the person appointed to carry out the terms of the will. He/She will file the will with the court, open probabte and distribute the assets according to the terms of the will. 

What does the term Power of Attorney (POA) mean?

Giving someone POA gives he/she the authority to make decisions on your behalf. The exact power and terms should be spelled out in the POA document (i.e. you can give someone POA for a limited purpose such as registering a car or you can give them authority to make financial or health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated).