Last year the movie “Amy” made its way through festivals all over the world. The movie detailed the life of Amy Winehouse who tragically perished well before her time, at just 27 years of age. As it turns out, the late Winehouse died intestate (without a will) and left an estate worth millions of dollars. Ultimately, this meant that her parents received the proceeds from her estate and that Winehouse had no control of where the assets she had earned went.
Of course, not everyone has amassed an estate of this stature by the age of 27, but the fact that nearly 50% of Americans don’t have wills and other necessary estate planning documents in place is alarming. While this is often an uncomfortable topic, most people find solace in the fact that these documents mean less worry and confusion in case of the unthinkable. Wouldn’t you prefer a little bit of discomfort now in exchange for knowing that there is a proper plan in place? Regardless of the size of your estate, having basic estate-planning documents is extremely important. For most people, basic estate planning documents include:
- Last Will and Testament
- Power of Attorney
- Living Will (Advanced Directive for Health Care)
At a basic level, a will is a document that legally states how you would like your property to be divided upon your passing. One benefit of a properly executed will is that it speeds up the probate process. As soon as anyone passes, the last thing most people want is for their family to be engaged in an expensive and time-consuming legal battle over their possessions. It is worth noting that some of your property may pass unaffected by your will. For example, life insurance proceeds in which you have already named a beneficiary.
One common misconception is that once a will has been signed it is permanent. This is not the case. In fact, you may change your wishes at any time provided that you effectively amend your will or replace it. If you’re concerned that your life circumstance may change, you’re not locked into anything.
The Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney allows you to authorize another person to make legal decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. These legal decisions can include bank transactions, credit transactions, payment transactions, real and personal property transactions, hiring authorizations with regards to nurses and physicians, as well as many other capacities. The primary benefit of a properly executed Power of Attorney is that the assigned party needn’t petition the Court for these powers in the event of your unexpected incapacitation and can thus often proceed with quicker decision making.
The Living Will (Advanced Directive for Health Care)
A living will is a document that allows you to make decisions regarding your healthcare in the event that something happens to you and you are non-communicative. In Georgia, this document is known as an Advanced Directive for Health Care. An Advanced Directive for Health Care allows you to state your preference in the event you are ever left in a non-responsive state.
When it comes to estate planning, even the most basic life situations call for some planning in case of the unthinkable. As the adage goes, isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? Contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC so we can help you plan for tomorrow today.