Monday, 22 July 2013

Make your will - right now!

My unmarried and childless neighbour hovers between life and death; and between compos mentis and non-compos mentis

One of her three brothers came down from Michigan. He is a decent bloke and has done his best to be present to his sister (in a hospital); to clean out the "junk yard" of her car port (bully for me); and to rid her home of rodents and other vermin.

But his hands have been tied. His sister (my neighbour) has not made a will; nor has she signed a health care proxy or a durable power of attorney; or a living will. Her condo is owned in her name alone.

If she recovers.her physical and mental health she will be urged her to take care of these matters.

If she does not recover and has to spend a prolonged time in a nursing home I believe that the State of Florida will make decisions regarding her estate (her home, her savings etc) in order to pay for her care.

If she dies intestate, there will be a long and involved probate process before her three brothers will be able to benefit from her estate.

(I have a personal interest in this. It give me no joy to live next door to an incapacitated hoarder.)


With this in mind:

 (This is not and should not be construed as legal advice. It's a list based on my own life and circumstances)

Consult with a lawyer/solicitor.

Ask her/him to draw up a will.

Make a living will.

Empower a health care proxy.

Ask about the wisdom of granting a friend/family member a durable power of attorney.

Check your life insurance and/or employer related death benefits.

Check your life insurance and/or employer related death benefits,

Make a list of all your financial documents.

Put your funeral preferences into writing.

Make sure that if you have a partner she/he (and any adult children) know where you store all your important documents.

If you are un-partnered (and especially if you have no direct heirs) document all this information, and give a copy to your lawyer, and/or your Church, and/or a sibling.

I have done all these things,  but I am sure that my list is not exhaustive.  I also know that the law is not identical in every U.S. State, or in other countries.

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