Marge didn’t have much. Her home and that was about it.
Marge had to go into the nursing home. However, she had never gotten around to preparing a power of attorney. Her family had to go through the courts and get a guardianship to be able to make financial and healthcare decisions. Then, when it came time to sell her house, they had to go back to court to get permission. The cost of a power of attorney would have been much less than two trips to court.
Even if you don’t have much, you should consider these three reasons for planning:
- Choosing who will be in control of your financial, legal, and medical decisions if/when you can’t make them
- Deciding who will get your stuff instead of the state. If you want to leave more to one child than another, then you must create a plan.
- Avoiding probate altogether. Probate is expensive, time consuming, and often stressful for those involved.
When Jane’s husband died in an accident, she found out the hard way that she didn’t get it all. When the accident settlement came in, made out to the estate, she found out that she just got one-third under Arkansas law. The children got the other two-thirds. With a plan in place, Jane could have gotten more to live on.
And, if you just live with a significant other, they don’t get anything under the law without a plan. Without a plan, they could literally be left out in the cold.