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When Someone Dies

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Chapter 1: As Death Approaches
• Who's in charge before the death?
• Does the person have an advance medical directive, also called a durable power of attorney for health care?
• If the person prepared an advance directive/durable power of attorney for health care...
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Practical Help

If you’re visiting this website, there’s a good chance someone you love has just died. Both of us have recently lost loved ones, and we’ve endured the grief that now consumes you. But this is not a book about grief or grieving. This is a succinct, step-by-step guide to all the practical things you must do after someone dies. Read more

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After my husband died unexpectedly 10 years ago, I consulted a lawyer intending to make a will, as I have 2 adult children. ( We did not have a will before.) The lawyer said that in my circumstances (a house, cars, etc. but no business or other complications) he advised making a living will, a healthcare power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and a transfer on death deed to my property--in place of a will. (I would place transfer on death clauses on my cars, bank accounts etc.) So pretty well, the only things not covered would be furniture, etc. I did not make a will. Is this the proper plan, or should I make a will anyway? This is my concern.
Dear Cleta, Thanks for your letter. You would benefit from a will. Note your lawyer recommended a living will, and that is not clear to me what he meant. You can, and should, add your children as signatories on all bank accounts so that they can access money immediately upon your death. But a will... read more
My father passed and had a living trust and will naming all his children, 4 and step children 3 of which 1 is living, bequeth all his property, assests etc into the family trust. Problem is his 2nd wife, not my mother passed 15 years ago,he did change the trust to just him. He re-married 2 years later. He did not change anything in the trust to this current step mom. Everything is still or is left to the children. This is california, I understand community property and surving spouse, but the house he left was purchased with my first step mom during their marriage not during this 2nd step mom marriage. Trust lawyers are stating that this surviving spouse has right to the house even though it was not purchased with her in fact the deed is only in my fathers name. Im confused on how this could be, why have a will or trust if a person can not leave his or her property to whom they want. We as the children are agreeable to a portion of the house after it sells to the surviving spouse but not certainly half. They were married 13 years. She did not work and father was retired and left his retirement into his trust. Help!!
Hi. This is a complicated problem and you need a lawyer. Basically, in many states, irrespective of the will, a person’s spouse is entitled to certain things, including the residence. But you need counsel to make sure that any interest she has is clearly delimited and that ultimately his will prevails. Good luck.
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