Every adult should have a Will, especially upon becoming a parent. If you have children that are not of adult age, or have an adult child that is developmentally disabled, a Will is the document that allows you to name who you want to serve as guardian should you pass away first.
Also, some incorrectly believe a power of attorney is sufficient to name who handles their affairs after they pass away. But the authority given in a power of attorney automatically ends at death.
A Will is the document that allows you to state who will receive your things after your passing. In a Will, you name your personal representative (sometimes called an “executor”) to carry out those wishes. If you don’t have a Will, the government will decide who will receive your things.
Several years ago, a widowed friend of mine told me she intended to create a Will. However, she never actually followed through. She had no surviving parents or siblings. The only family she had was her son, who she wanted to receive her things.
As too often occurs, she passed away unexpectedly. When meeting with her son, he told me something that was going to completely alter what would happen to her estate. He told me that he was her son because she “informally” adopted him many years ago. He was not her biological son; nor had he ever been legally adopted.
Under the government’s rules, their relationship didn’t matter. He had no right to any of her estate. However, had she completed a Will, the results would have been entirely different. Her son would have received everything. However, because she did not, distant relatives (who I believe she did not even know) received her things.
Estate planning is far too important to leave to good intentions.
© 2017 Steven J Wright