By Lorie Burch, Owner & Founding Attorney of Burch Law
- The court will determine the guardian of your children. Your family could end up in court fighting over the kids, or the kids could end up with a stranger.
- The court will determine the trustee of your children’s estate.
- Your spouse may have to make a yearly report of how s/ he is managing any money the state grants to your underage children.
- The court will determine who inherits your estate.
- The court will appoint an administrator for your estate.
- Your court – appointed administrator may have to post a bond to guarantee that s/he is responsibly managing the money the state grants to your underage children.
- Your family heirlooms may be divided up with one-third going to your spouse and two thirds to your children. If the family cannot agree, the court can have the heirlooms sold and divide the proceeds.
- If your spouse remarries after your death, his/her new spouse may be entitled to an interest in the assets from your estate.
- The new spouse will not be legally required to use those assets for your children and when s/he dies, s/he will not be required to leave any of those assets to your children.
- In mixed marriages with children, a new spouse may become partners with stepchildren or possibly an ex-spouse in handling your estate.
Many families do not realize the real danger of not having a will. Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult times that we can experience. To make matters worse, most people leave their family and loved ones guessing at their wishes, or handicapped in being able to honor those wishes, because they did not do some simple planning. Everyone’s needs are different, but there are 5 essential documents that no one should be without:
- Last Will & Testament
- Directive to Physicians (Living Will)
- Medical Power of Attorney
- HIPAA Release of Authority
- Financial Power of Attorney
It is extremely important that you consult an attorney and other professionals when you are making these decisions and drafting these documents. No one’s circumstances and needs are the same. It is invaluable to have the knowledge and experience of an expert to guide you through these complex decisions. There is no question that these are difficult decisions to face and contemplate. But unless you know something I do not, our time will come and none of us knows when. You must prepare yourself, your family, and your loved ones for the inevitable – and the reality is that it could be sooner rather than later.