Why Do I Need Estate Documents If I Don't Have Kids?
When it comes to estate planning, many people procrastinate - even if they're married - until they have kids. There seems to be a common misconception that estate documents are only for the wealthy and those who have children, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Everyone needs estate planning because it’s about more than directing what happens to your assets when you die; it’s also about having a plan in place for things that could happen to you while you’re still living.
You need a will because it isn’t safe to assume that your closest living relative will automatically inherit everything if you die without one. The laws differ in every state, and you might be surprised at how assets are split in various circumstances. For example, many Alabamians may not realize that if you die and are survived by a spouse and your parents, your spouse gets the first $100,000 of your intestate property plus half of the remainder, and your parents receive the other half. This may or may not be what you would want, so it’s best to find out what would happen in your state and situation.
You need a Power of Attorney so that someone you trust can act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to see to your own affairs, both financial and medical. For example, if you were hospitalized for an extended time due to an accident, you might need someone to be able to move money from your savings account to your checking account to pay your bills. In such a case, you would also need a Power of Attorney (POA) to make sure you would not receive medical treatments to which you would object. If you are married, you may think this step is unnecessary, but consider what could happen if your spouse were injured, as well.
There are various types of POAs for different circumstances. For these to be legally binding, you must be of sound mind and able to understand the document and its effects, so as with all planning documents, you need to have these in place before the situations they were created for arise.