Hey Minimalist, Protect your Loved ones Today!
Minimalist lifestyle enthusiasts spend money on important, timeless items - nothing could be more timeless than estate planning. Sure, legal work may cost hundreds today, but proper planning will save thousands tomorrow. Below you will discover some cautionary words on just how devastating lack of estate planning action can be.
What happens if, from illness, injury or another cause, you become physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that you are no longer able to handle your own legal affairs? Have you been putting off the task of contacting an attorney and establishing your four crucial estate documents?
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Last Will and Testament
Let's suppose again that while you are incapacitated it becomes necessary to mortgage your home to pay your medical bills. Who will sign the mortgage? Even if your home is jointly owned with your spouse, he cannot obtain a mortgage without your signature.
In those circumstances it would be necessary to request the local probate court to appoint a guardian for you that has the power to handle your legal affairs. In many states, this type of guardian is referred to as a "conservator". Included in the conservator's powers might be the power to borrow money and sign a mortgage on your behalf making it possible to obtain the funds needed to pay the medical bills. Here are some helpful words from our friends at Downriver Lawyer in Allen Park Michigan:
There are certain subjects many people feel uncomfortable talking about, including death and wills. No one wants to think about it, but death is inevitable for all of us. As we age, these are things we begin to consider more, because it makes sense to prepare as much as we can to help protect and support the loved ones we leave behind. Some people don’t want to think ahead, and end up passing away without ever having written a will. In such cases, the decedent is said to have died “intestate,” therefore requiring a court-appointed legal representative that serves as the distributor of assets. In other situations, a deceased person’s will may be challenged by a family member in court. Perhaps that individual feels the will was written under duress or while the deceased was incapacitated, and that is why they want to have the will declared invalid. These types of complex scenarios are cases heard in probate court. If you or a loved one is dealing with a similar matter, it is best to consult a probate attorney.
However, you may have heard that it is advantageous to avoid probate whenever possible, particularly if there is a good alternative available. The delay and expense associated with probate proceedings and the fact that they are conducted in the probate court, a public forum, make that good advice in most circumstances. And there is a better alternative than probate, but it requires you to act before the incapacity arises - you need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.
When used in this estate planning context, the Durable Power of Attorney is generally worded very broadly to give your Agent the power to step into your legal shoes in almost any circumstance. In effect, you tell your Agent "You can do anything I can do."
Now, if you have prepared the Durable Power of Attorney and then become incapacitated, no one has to go through a probate proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator to act for you - you have already given your Agent the power to do so. As you can see, the Durable Power of Attorney can save precious time and expense in critical situations and avoid having your personal affairs become the subject of a public proceeding.
Estate planning is easy to put off. But don't! Advance planning, such as executing a Durable Power of Attorney, may make a horrible circumstance for you and your family just a bit more bearable.