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Everyone has heard it and everyone knows it – everyone should have a Will and Living Will. But, like most preventative measures, the advice goes unheeded. Why? For most, they are way too busy to worry about something that is not a pressing issue – like what they are going to give the kids for lunch tomorrow. Others don’t like to think about death or illness and live by the, “that won’t happen to me…” scenario. And some either have never worked with an attorney and don’t know how to start the process or don’t want to spend the money on something that isn’t going to provide immediate gratification (or in this case, any – for them…)

  1. Make the time to put obtaining your Wills in your schedule. Like anything else, if it’s not on the calendar, it won’t get done.
  2. I can’t make thinking about death and illness pleasant. All I can say is that you will probably only have to do it once and people are always very happy to have finally gotten it done.
  3. Prices of Wills vary depending on the complexity of them. Most people have simple wills and they are on the lower end. I’m going to borrow the Mastercard tag line: Knowing your children are protected/Peace of mind = priceless.
  4. Beginning the process is as easy as contacting an attorney. They will do the rest. I should note that there are many do-it-yourself books available for completing your own Wills. You would have to invest the time and be willing to take the risk that you did it correctly. Unfortunately, the validity of these documents is not tested until you are incompetent or deceased….Not very convenient for making any corrections.

What is a Will

A Will is a document that allows you to state how you want your possessions and money to be distributed upon your death. More important it gives you the opportunity to appoint guardians for your minor children. If you die without a Will, your possessions and money will be distributed according to state law, which may be different than you’d like. The absence of a Will also causes a more costly and protracted Probate administration of your estate. The Court, instead of you, appoints an executor for the estate and a guardian for any minor children.

What is a Living Will

A Living Will is a document that conveys your wishes for medical treatment in the event you are determined to be in a permanent vegetative state. It includes the appointment of a Health Care Agent who is someone that has the authority to make the decision to “pull the plug.” I advise clients to speak in detail with their Health Care Agent about their wishes and with their priest or other spiritual advisor about the terms of the Living Will.

While any legal document can be challenged, the proper execution of these documents will greatly reduce the likelihood of family discord and anguish and allow your family to address your death or illness as quickly as possible and with peace of mind.

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