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The Importance of a Last Will and Testament

Perhaps the most surprising fact reported following the death of musician Prince Rogers Nelson was that the celebrity died without a Last Will and Testament. As mentioned in a previous blog article, Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson filed an Emergency Petition in a Minnesota court seeking the appointment of a Special Administrator. The circumstances surrounding the celebrity’s death is not uncommon, as 55 percent of Americans do not have a will or an estate plan in place, according to LexisNexis.

Wills are an important part of estate planning to consider, even for young people. They protect the succession of assets and ensure that the intended beneficiaries are able to access those assets, according to the deceased’s wishes. To accurately reflect the wishes of an individual, a Will should be reviewed and re-drafted every decade or so or when personal circumstances change.

Some of the factors that may affect an individual’s decision to draft a Will may include a person’s medical condition and family medical history; participation in the armed forces; level of involvement in dangerous recreational activities such as alcohol and drug consumption; health and fitness habits; and desire for financial independence.

When it comes time to draft a Will, a person should list his or her assets and desired beneficiaries. It is just as important to include digital assets, such as access to photos/videos, documents and other files, passwords and sensitive accounts (such as a savings account), as it is to consider physical ones. When drafting a Will, it is important to take into consideration extenuating circumstances, such as the unexpected death of a beneficiary. An individual may name a contingent beneficiary if his or her primary beneficiary or beneficiaries predeceases him or her.

Without a Will, the fate of a person’s estate, stocks, savings and other holdings could be decided by the state. Without a Last Will and Testament to provide clear guidance for the division of estate and assets, a deceased’s loved ones may encounter stress and be forced to endure costly legal battles to settle the estate following the loss of their loved one.

When considering drafting a Last Will and Testament, it is important to contact an experienced estate lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions that affect both you and your loved ones. If you or a loved one needs a Last Will and Testament or other Advance Directives, contact the experienced attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 to ensure that your property passes to those you choose and not according to the laws of intestacy.

The Musical Icon Prince May Have Died Without a Will

According to documents obtained by People Magazine, Prince did not have a Last Will and Testament. Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson filed an Emergency Petition in a Minnesota Court seeking the appointmeprincent of a Special Administrator.

Sources report Prince’s sister as stating, “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent executed testamentary documents in any form,” states the document, which was filed in Carver County Minnesota.

An Administrator is appointed to settle an estate after a person has died.  A petition must be filed with the court and a personal representative must be appointed.  The personal representative is responsible for the following:

  • Collection, inventory, and appraisal of assets of the person who has died.
  • Protection of the estate’s assets.
  • Payment of decedent’s debts.
  • Distribution of the remaining assets to the proper parties as provided by law.

According to a survey conducted by FindLaw.com, 35% of those surveyed had a Will but individuals over the age of 65 did execute a Will. Without a Will, property passes according to the State’s intestacy laws.

Some sources believe that Prince’s current estate is valued at over $300 million dollars. The failure to execute a Will may result in his property being distributed in a manner contrary to what he may have wanted during his life.

If you or a loved one needs a Last Will and Testament or other Advanced Directives, contact the experienced attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 to ensure that your property passes to those you choose and not according to the laws of intestacy.

A Living Will vs. A Healthcare Proxy

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsA Living Will is often confused with a Health Care Proxy and vice versa by many individuals. Although both provide advance directives regarding medical decisions, they both are separate documents with distinct features and purposes.

It is vital to become aware of these terms, what they mean, and the impact both documents can have on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Get informed and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

A Living Will

A Living Will is a written statement of an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatment. This document is created to define a person’s specific plan as to how their health care will be handled if they are gravely ill or incapacitated in the hospital. The primary issue to be determined in a Living Will is whether a person wishes to be put on life support, and what type of life-preserving measures should be taken.

A Living Will is vitally important not only for the ill person, but for the family. Without a Living Will, a physician may call upon the family members to make very difficult judgment calls. These types of matters have been increasingly more common with advancements in medical science, and the increased ability to extend life.

Living Wills give detailed instructions regarding medical treatment if an individual is in a persistent vegetative state, in a coma, or otherwise unable to communicate how she wants his/her medical treatment handled. Perhaps a person does not believe in being kept alive by artificial means, particularly if there is no hope of recovery. A Living Will stating this fact would give this person control over their own health care when they are unable to express their own wishes.

A Healthcare Proxy

A Healthcare Proxy varies from a Living Will in that a Health Care Proxy appoints a particular person to speak on your behalf regarding medical decisions, if you are in a situation where you can’t make them yourself. The idea behind a Health Care Proxy is that someone makes the decisions you would have made, had you been able to do so.

You must choose your proxy thoughtfully since he/she will be acting on your behalf. After appointing your proxy, it is extremely important to discuss your wishes with them about your medical care, including resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration and personal goals for quality of life. Knowledge of your wishes will help guide the decisions your proxy will have to make with your medical team. Knowing that any decisions made are based on your personal values and wishes will be a comfort to family and friends during a stressful time.

Contact an Attorney

If you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age, the right legal documents are your lifeline. When you don’t write down your wishes about the kinds of medical treatment you do or don’t want to receive and name someone you trust to oversee your care, these important matters can be placed in the hands of estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges, who may know very little about what you would prefer. In order to ensure you are protected, contact an experienced attorney today.