To Those You Leave Behind

It is Inevitable

I always find it interesting that some people choose not to make a will because they don’t want to think about dying. Not thinking about it does not make the reality of it go away. You would imagine people who believe in God and the after world would think about dying and life after death often. Perhaps they do, but they are probably thinking about where they will spend eternity and not necessarily about taking care of the people they leave behind. Even those who do not believe in the afterlife will have family members who will be left behind. It is inevitable.

I look at estate planning as providing my family a gift. I have an opportunity to let my family know I thought about them and I cared about what happens to them after I passed away.

Unnecessary Steps Cause by Lack of Planning

I speak from experience when I tell you that I have had a family member who had to hire an attorney and petition for guardianship of their mother when she was incapacitated by a stroke. Had the mother given one of her children a durable power of attorney to take care of her affairs, such as using her bank account to pay her bills, it would have saved a lot of time and money and a guardianship would have been unnecessary. Had the mother drafted a medical power of attorney or advance directive, her children would not have had to discuss and argue about what “Mom would have wanted” as she was being fed intravenously.

Cleaning Up the Mess

Once a person has been through this type of experience you would think they would take steps to not leave their own family in a similar situation. But that is not always the case. Again, I speak from experience when I say one of the adult children in that situation did not give a power of attorney to their spouse or children and did not have an estate plan. The person had written three sentences on a piece of paper and signed it. This is a legitimate will in Texas and called a holographic will. However, it left a lot of unanswered questions. His family chose not to execute the will due to the tax implications. Instead the family had to jointly sign disclaimers to the property they would have received under the intestate laws. Otherwise, the spouse would not have received all the property. Luckily, those involved agreed to disclaim a large amounts of assets they could have received. Imagine the mess that would have occurred if just one of those persons had refused to disclaim their interest in the property.

Plan Ahead

These situations can be avoided with a little forethought and expense. Benjamin Franklin’s axiom is fitting-- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Contact the Law Office of Hugh Spires, Jr. at 210-874-5700, or for advice and assistance with taking care of the family you will inevitably leave behind.