A will serves a very specific purpose: it ensures that your wishes are fulfilled after you pass away. For example, if you wish to leave your remaining assets to a specific group of people or an organization, then this needs to be stipulated in a legal document to ensure that the executor of the will fulfills those wishes. Elder law is an important, yet often overlooked, component of the aging process. While I am not an attorney and none of this should be considered legal advice, it is important to be educated about this component of senior living because it is so important, both for the elderly individual and their family members.
The first step here is to select an executor. This is the person who will be tasked with making sure that the terms of your will are fulfilled. Usually, this person is an attorney, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. For example, if there is a loved one or a friend that you trust to do this, it can be stipulated within the will. Typically, an attorney is selected because they have a firm understanding of the law and are much more likely to execute the terms of the will in a legally binding manner.
Within the last will and testament, your estate can be divided amongst the individuals that you wish to receive those things. If there are specific family heirlooms that you want to pass on, this is the area where it should be stated. Money and investments can be divvied up, too. In order to ensure that your assets are accounted for, a periodic review of the will should be conducted with an attorney, especially if your status changes in any way. If there have been multiple marriages or other family changes, it’s important to ensure that this has been accounted for, too.
If you or a loved one passes away and there is not a will in place, this is called intestate, and it can pose a number of issues. While loved ones will likely receive an inheritance if there is money left over after all outstanding obligations are settled, it can take as many as a few years before this occurs. This occurs because it becomes the state’s duty to appoint an administrator to oversee all of these things. Depending on where you live, this can take quite a while, especially if it is a large or complicated estate. Obviously, this is something that you probably want to avoid. Having a will makes life easier for those that care about you, even after you’ve passed away.
Questions about elder law? Get in touch with an attorney that you trust. If you aren’t sure where to start, your local social services will be able to point you in the right direction. This can be a long and complex journey, so just like you want to have a senior caregiver on your side that you trust, a trusted and compassionate elder law attorney is also important.