When someone passes away, or has a major medical emergency not having any estate plan documents can make life extremely difficult for the family and friends of the person. It is important to keep in mind that everyone’s estate plan in unique and needs to be tailored to their specific situation and desires.
There are many different documents that can make up an estate plan. The most common ones are a will, a statutory power of attorney (to allow your property to be sold or maintained in the event you become incapacitated), a medical power of attorney (to allow someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated), and a physicians directive (allows for you to indicate what will happen to you in regards to treatment if you have a terminal condition and are not expected to recover). There are also many other less common estate planning documents that sometimes are needed in an individual’s estate plan.
Below are some examples of what could happen if someone does not have a given estate planning document and something unfortunate happens.
If someone does not have a medical power of attorney and slips into a coma, or is otherwise unable to make medical decisions for themselves, without a medical power of attorney it can become difficult for someone to make a decision for them without a medical power of attorney. This becomes especially true if the incapacitated person has multiple children who all think a different course of treatment is needed for their parent. A properly done medical power of attorney, will name who has the decision making power in the event that you become incapacitated and should name someone that you trust to make the decisions in the event that you become incapacitated. This is also true with a statutory power of attorney, expect the statutory power of attorney will only control your property, such as bank accounts, land, cars, etc., in the event that you are incapacitated.
If someone passes away without a will, their estate will pass via the intestacy statute. You can learn more about what happens when someone passes without an estate by reading this prior blog post.
If you have any questions regarding what type of estate plan you may need, or want to redo your estate plan, please contact our office at (972) 330-2171 for a free consultation.
Byron C. Winborne