Leaving a Will is one of the most responsible things a person can do prior to their death. The ability to bequeath certain assets acquired in one's life to their heirs and friends is pivotal to the successfully probate of your estate. In general, if you die without leaving a will, your estate is divided up and disbursed in accordance with state law. Your assets may be divided between parties whom may not otherwise wish to receive proceeds from your estate. Therefore, a Will, regardless of the size of your estate, is an important testamentary tool to leave for the survivors in your life. Generally, you can give anything you want to anyone you want as long as you were not under duress or incompetent at the time you executed your will. Additionally, you can decide who will administer your estate upon your death. This person is called an executor or personal representative. Depending on the size of your estate, probate may or may not be necessary. The process of probate simply means that the Courts will have the final say over the disbursement of an estate. Individual circumstances will determine the need for this area of the law. The most important this for you to do at this time is to have an attorney draft a will that specifically codifies your wishes to make ambiguity extinct.
In addition to leaving a will, you should also have a durable power of attorney, living will and advanced medical directives prepared. Each tool enumerates your desires should you be unable to make decisions for yourself to do injury or disease. Such directives may dictate whether you wish to receive food from a machine if you are without brain activity (vegetative state). Or if you are older, a directive may be to not perform miracle life saving techniques (such as if you are a terminal cancer patient and have a heart attack). Obviously, there is no way to give specific advice as to your situation through this web site. Your circumstances will require me to consult with you to discuss your goals and your plans. Again, the elimination of any ambiguity is the primary goal. Your life is set in paper, and if the documents are prepared correctly, you will have the final say regarding medical treatment at the end of your life or the disposition of your estate after your life is over. You are never too young to begin the process. Tragedy or disease can strike anyone at any age. If you would like to discuss this area of law with me, please feel free to fill out the Wills/Estate form.