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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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 makes things very clear, especially among family members. There could be immense problems if one of your children dies and it is not clear what you intended in the absence of a will. You also need a power of attorney and a medical directive.

Related Chapter: You’re Done; Now Make Things Easy for Your Survivors

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