Did you know that the famous rapper Snoop Dogg doesn’t have a Last Will and Testament? He has, in his own colorful language, brushed off the very notion with a terse “I don’t give a f___ when I’m dead.”
Snoop Dogg isn’t the only celebrity without a Last Will and Testament in place. After the death of the late singer Prince in 2016, the world was shocked to learn that he did not have a Last Will and Testament (his beneficiaries are still squabbling over his assets).
The death of a famous celebrity should not be what compels you to finish that all-too important document, but it should serve as a reminder of how important it is to complete your Will.
Alongside a Will, you should also think about the importance of a Power of Attorney and a Living Will.
You know what a Last Will and Testament is, but what are those other two documents?
My husband is very ill, and I need to manage our household expenses
A Power of Attorney document is integral to estate-planning. It is a document which designates a trustworthy person (e.g. a spouse, parent, child, etc.) legal authority over your finances, household expenses and if necessary, financial business decisions.
In what scenarios would this occur?
The most common scenario that usually comes to mind is using a Power of Attorney to take care of an elderly parent, but there are other scenarios you may not consider:
If you are driving to work one day and wind up in a horrific car accident, you may incur brain damage or slip into a coma. At this point, you obviously cannot communicate your wishes, and while the doctors are looking after you, who is looking after your expenses, your business and your household?
That is what a Power of Attorney document is for. You can appoint an individual (your Attorney) to manage your finances in the event you are unable to do so.
Do you for instance, want to grant someone else the power to open and close bank accounts in your name? Sell, own or buy property in your name? That is what a Power of Attorney allows you to do, and these are just a few of the situations a Power of Attorney covers. It is definitely something you will want to get done.
This document, once properly signed and initialized, comes into effect right away and operates while you are alive. A Last Will and Testament comes into effect after your death.
What is the difference between a Last Will and Testament and a Living Will?
My husband is very ill, and I will be in charge of his health
In the very same scenario mentioned above (the husband left comatose in a car accident), the difficulty lies not only in managing a spouse’s financial matters, but his ailing health as well.
A Living Will allows you to name an individual to make decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. A Living Will also comes into effect while you are alive and covers a number of situations, including: appointing a decision maker for your health related choices; appointing alternate decision maker(s); donating organs; specifying end of life care, and more.
Do you want a blood transfusion? Do you want your organs donated if you pass away? If so, for what purpose would you want them donated for? Would you want your organs donated for medical purposes or scientific research? A Living Will allows you to describe all of this in detail.
It is worth discussing all your wishes early on to ensure that you choose someone who will act on your behalf.
A paper trail
Obviously it is important to discuss these issues with family, relatives and other loved ones. A paper trail is just as important; authorities have to know what your thoughts and wishes are in relation to your health, finances, and your estate and assets. Having written documents in relation to your wishes is always a good idea.
A famous celebrity like Snoop Dogg may not care about his children squabbling over his money, but you may care about your loved ones having to deal with lawyer fees, administration fees, infighting and court hearings.
Not having estate planning documents for the future is a bad idea. Don’t be like Snoop Dogg or Prince. Start your estate planning documents today and be prepared for anything in the future.