Massachusetts residents often spend their lives taking care of their families. However, only a percentage of people make plans for after they pass away. Wills provide a vehicle for individuals to support their families after death.
Without at least a will, the state may have to determine how an individual's assets will be distributed, which may not be to the same person or persons that he or she would have liked. In fact, if a Massachusetts resident is involved in a long term relationship, but not married, his or her assets typically go to family members instead of the person with whom he or she was residing. Further, anyone with minor children who does not have a will could end up leaving the fate of his or her children to the courts.
Family members could end up in a contentious court battle to determine who will get to take care of the children, and there is no guarantee that person would be the one the parent or parents might have chosen. Family members could also end up in court to determine who will make financial and healthcare decisions on an individual's behalf should that person become incapacitated. Adding a durable power of attorney and advance directive to a will creates a basic estate plan that could ensure that a person's wishes are carried out -- whether he or she is incapacitated or deceased.
These are only some of the reasons why wills, durable powers of attorney and advance directives are essential for any adult. Even if someone does not think he or she has anything of value, a basic estate plan can ensure an individual has input in what happens if something happens to him or her. This provides peace of mind not only to the individual, but to his or her family as well.
Source: CBS Boston, "You Must Plan On Dying", Dee Lee, Sept. 23, 2014