By Rebecca Winters
Attorney at Law
Rebecca Winters Law
According to a recent survey conducted by Caring.com, over two-thirds of American adults do not have a will, or a basic plan for their assets in the event of their passing. Many Americans believe that estate planning, even in its most basic form, is for extremely wealthy, older individuals. However, this is not correct. A will, and other documents, such as a power of attorney, living will, and more, can set a plan for your assets, your children, and yourself in the event of your death, or in the event that you cannot make these decisions for yourself.
It is never too soon for an adult to begin to make plans for their assets, or children, should something happen. I often have people question what happens to their things if they pass away without a will. In Alabama, passing without a will is called dying intestate (without a will), and the Alabama Code has provisions for exactly how your possessions and assets are divided and who may receive them. Every situation is unique, but the Code dictates where your assets should go depending on who you leave behind; that could be a spouse, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If you have other plans about who you want to take possession of your things, or to make decisions for you in the event you can’t, documents are necessary to carry out your wishes accordingly.
Further, other documents outside of a will can help to carry out your wishes for yourself if something were to cause you to become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. A medical emergency can often divide families when making decisions for their loved ones, or your family may make decisions for you that are contrary to what you would have wanted. Having a plan in place will alleviate the need for your family to make difficult decisions in an already difficult time.
Who needs a will and other planning documents? Any adult who wishes to have a say in their self or assets should they pass away or become unable to make decisions for themselves, young adults with minor children, adults with assets, no matter how small. Planning documents are not just for the wealthy and those with large assets, and it is never too soon to think about the future. As we all saw in 2020, we never know what the future holds, and it would not hurt to have a plan in place.
If planning for your possessions or children is something that you are considering, or if you are wondering if this is something you should begin to draft, I would love to speak with you about your needs, options, and what you might want to have in place should something happen to you.
(Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give legal advice and is for general knowledge purposes only. No representation is being made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services to be performed by other attorneys.)