Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Situations Where Your Last Will May Be Considered Void

Drafting a last will and testament is something we only hope to do one time. Creating a document that specifies our wishes after our deaths can cause some anxiety in that we are reminded of our mortality, but more than that making changes to a will can cause headaches if not done correctly. You also risk voiding your will under certain circumstances. In order to keep your friends and loved ones from inheriting any headaches along with your estate, it is important to know exactly what events can void your will.

If your will is judged void after your death, it opens the door to any number of disputes between family and friends as they argue over dispersing your assets. Charities you wished to benefit from your generosity may not receive the funds you set aside for them, and even your burial plans may be altered. It is important, therefore, to make sure you following everything to the letter. Here are a few situations that could lead to voiding your will.

1) You make unauthorized changes. When you complete a will, it is typically signed and witnessed, and notarized. If you make written additions or deletions anytime after that period, somebody could contest the validity of the will and cause problems. If you want to make corrections after the legalities are complete, you can either destroy the current will and start over, or draft a codicil to accompany the will you current have.

2) You were not of sound mind when you wrote the will. Some people may be pressured or heavily encouraged to draft a document in order to bring peace of mind for your family. However, a will written under duress or other influence could be proven invalid if somebody believes you were not of sound mind at the time. You want to make it perfectly clear that your wishes are your own, and that you have not been forced to write anything you didn't want to write.

3) Changes in marital status. Depending on the laws in your state, a will drafted before a legal marriage or divorce could allow a party to contest your will if you do not have it changed. If you have a will ready and decide to marry or remarry, speak with your attorney about what needs to be done to ensure your wishes are kept intact.

Take care to know what factors could render your last will and testament void.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on North Carolina lawyers and Outer Banks lawyers.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What is Probate and Will it Affect My Inheritance?

What is probate is a fundamental question. Financial planners claim less than 20-percent of heirs and beneficiaries receive their intended inheritance. Funeral expenses, unpaid debts, estate taxes and legal fees can financially deplete the estate, leaving nothing for those left behind.

This article answers the "what is probate" question and provides tips and techniques to keep assets out of probate. Estates will process through the court system faster when fewer assets are involved.

Probate is the legal process used to validate decedents Last Will and Testament and tie up financial loose ends. The last will is the instrument used to convey final wishes and designate who should receive money, personal belongings, real estate and valuable items.

Numerous options exist for creating a Will. Preformatted Wills can be downloaded online or purchased at office supply stores. Complex estates generally require assistance from a probate attorney or professional estate planner. Much depends on the estate's net worth and how many heirs are entitled to assets.

An estate administrator is designated within the decedent's Will. This individual is responsible for a wide range of duties, so it is best to appoint someone who is good with finances and able to cope well under stress. This is of particular importance when family discord exists.

Probate begins when the decedent's death certificate is submitted to probate court. The estate administrator must create an inventory list of assets and obtain property appraisals for valuable assets such as real estate, collectibles, antiques, artwork and heirloom jewelry. Other duties include paying outstanding debts, filing a final tax return and distributing assets according to directives outlined within the Will. Most Administrators require assistance from an attorney or estate planner.

The process of probate typically takes six to nine months to settle. This can be financially challenging for estates with business or real estate holdings. The estate is responsible for maintaining real estate properties and managing business entities. If the estate does not possess the financial means to maintain property or handle business affairs, the court can order these assets to be sold.

Probate provides a stage for disgruntled heirs to contest the last will. When family members are disinherited or do not receive assets they believe are rightfully theirs, they can file a petition through the court.

The plaintiff is responsible for legal fees. The estate must reimburse legal fees if the court rules in favor of the plaintiff. When Wills are contested probate can drag on for years and potentially bankrupt the estate. In most instances when Wills are the contested, the only people who win are the attorneys.
Estate assets can be exempted from probate by establishing a trust. A variety of types exist and most can be customized to suit the needs of the estate. Trusts are typically reserved for estates valued over $100,000.

Smaller estate can utilize various techniques to keep assets out of probate. These include establishing transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD) beneficiaries. TOD is used with investment and retirement accounts, while POD is used for checking and savings accounts.

TOD and POD assignments can be made by filling out a simple form through the financial institution where accounts are held. Financial assets avoid probate through the assignment of beneficiaries.
Real estate can avoid undergoing the process of probate by titling the property as 'Tenants in Common' or 'Joint Tenancy'.

Titled property such as automobiles, motorcycles, boats and airplanes can be jointly titled and transferred to the name beneficiary upon death without passing through probate.

Another option to avoid probate is to give assets to loved ones while you are still alive. The IRS allows cash gifts of up to $10,000 per person or $20,000 per married couple, per year. This option is oftentimes attractive to individuals with chronic or terminal illness.

Probate can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. By taking time now to execute a last will and testament and taking action to keep assets out of probate, you can rest assured knowing your loved ones will receive the inheritance you wish to leave them.

Simon Volkov is a real estate investor and probate liquidator who helps heirs understand what is probate and how to avoid it. Simon engages in buying inheritance assets to ease financial burdens of estates with limited finances. If you need to sell estate assets or need additional information about probate, visit www.SimonVolkov.com.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Estate Planning : Family Estate Trust or Revocable Living Trust?



Most people who ask for family estate trusts really want a revocable living trust to reduce estate taxes and manage finances.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Criminal Records: Do You Qualify for Expungement?



Expungement is not the same thing as sealing. The terms are very close in meaning with subtle differences. However, an expungement means that the criminal record is erased as if they crime never happened. Sealing simply hides the record and make it no longer public information. This is important because each state has different laws that apply to each of these terms.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reasons Why Making a Will Is Important

Most people tend to procrastinate about making their last will and testament, primarily because it is a harsh reminder of our mortality and as such, we prefer not to have anything to do with it until the time comes when it is too late to do something about it. In most funerals you attend, you often hear people ask if the deceased left any will and the most common answer being "no" or "none."

While making a will is certainly no one's favorite thing to do, what many people don't realize is that it can alleviate your fears of death because once you decide to make it, you will be assured that the loved ones you leave behind will be taken care of properly and that your estate won't be spent on legal expenses from contests initiated by your heirs.

However, that's not to say you can't die without ever making a will. In fact, there are two ways by which you can die without a will, the first being because you never wrote one and the second being, the will you wrote was declared invalid by probate court. In both cases, this is referred to as dying intestate or dying without a valid will.

When you die intestate, that means the control of your property and the distribution of your assets will be done under the laws of intestacy. If for example you co-owned a property with two other people, the laws of intestacy dictate that the ownership will not transfer to the other co-owners but your heirs, which is one situation that the remaining co-owners may contest.

There are four types of assets where these laws don't apply and they are as follows:

  • Life insurance and retirement plan proceeds
  • Properties that are jointly owned with a right of survivorship
  • Properties held in a living trust
  • Properties under the community property system

The entire purpose of making a will is to make sure your property and assets are distributed to people and organizations as you intended. To make sure this happens you can elect an executor of your will to make sure every condition in your will is fulfilled. Choosing an executor means you should choose someone you trust like a relative or a close friend. If you don't have neither to choose from, then it should be someone who is dependable, trustworthy, well-organized, good with paperwork and diligent about meeting deadlines.

And lastly, making a will doesn't have to follow a strict guideline because what will matter is not how the will was written but the conditions written within. There are many ways these days to write your own will, such as software that you can use just by asking you a few questions where your answers will be inserted into a ready-made will. Having a will ready will also save you from having to hire a lawyer to help you write one - not only is it time-consuming to find a good lawyer, it is also quite expensive to have one draft your will for you.

When you want to learn more about how to avoid problems after you've gone, check out this post about will disputes so that your loved ones are well taken care of when it matters.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

4 Reasons to Form an LLC or Incorporate Your Business

Are you operating your business under a fictitious name, your own name or as a sole proprietorship or general partnership? Are you at risk because your assets are not protected from legal issues? If you are operating your business without the protection an LLC or corporate offers, it's time to make it official.

Here are four very good reasons to incorporate or form an LLC as soon as possible.

1. You are sending a bad message to your customers

When you operate as a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, you are sending the message that you are still inexperienced, testing the waters or unsure if you are serious about your business. Maybe you have been told that incorporating or forming an LLC is just another expense and it won't save you anything on taxes. This is not the only thing you should consider, however, as you also want to consider how you are marketing your business and what you are telling your customers.

2. You can protect your assets

If you hold all of your assets in your name and you have not formed a corporation or LLC, you are doing something very risky. What happens if a customer sues you after they get hurt by a product? What if a vendor comes after you for non-payment? All it takes is one lawsuit -- which you will probably not see coming -- to ruin your personal credit and put your belongings and home at risk. Even if you do your best to play by the rules and treat everyone fairly, you cannot be fully covered while operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership.

When your corporation or LLC borrows money, signs a lease, or buys anything on credit, you will not be personally liable.

3. There are important tax benefits

Operating as a sole proprietorship can cost you significantly in self employment taxes, which tax your income at the highest possible tax rate for your situation. The decision to form an LLC or incorporate can turn otherwise non-deductible personal expenses into legitimate business expenses that may be deducted. In many cases, the corporate tax rate is much lower than the individual tax rate. A corporation or limited liability company can often qualify for additional tax deductions and benefits unavailable to individuals. This is because incorporating creates a separate legal entity.

4. It will be easier to raise capital

When you want to raise money for your business, having a corporation will make it easier to find the money you need. You can take on investors by selling shares, or you can borrow from banks and lending institutions. If a third party investors wants to invest in your business, there must be an entity set up to accept the money. Most venture capitalists prefer to work with corporations.

You have put it off long enough. If you want your business to be taken seriously and gain protection for yourself and your family, it's time to consult with a corporation service company or an attorney to go over your options.

Christine writes for USA Corporate Services, Inc., a corporation service company that helps business owners form an LLC and learn how to incorporate a business in any state of the country. Click here to learn more.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What is Probate? Should Probate be Avoided?



- What is Probate?

- Should I try to avoid Probate with my Estate Plan?

- How can i avoid Probate?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Understanding Probate in California

Probate is the legal process that settles the property of the deceased person and tells how it should be equally distributed among the heirs and beneficiaries in case there is no will. The rules and regulations of probate vary form state to state and each state can have a different procedure and hearing process for probate. Some general guidance might be similar in most states but it is always advised to take help of a legal advisor in case you need to understand the probate process in your locality. Moreover you should understand that every probate case is different depending on the amount of money involved in it. The different property, debts and people involved in it make the whole case different from one other. There is no way that the rules and results of one probate case can apply to other case. Normally people have a view point that probate can be an ugly scene but the fact is that it can be easy if all parties involved in it work together for a positive outcome and preserve the memory of the deceased person.

In most cases, the property of the deceased person is transferred to his spouse if the person has not made any will before his expiry but in some conditions due to the parties' involved the property cannot be transferred to the spouse directly. The probate court which hears the matter of probate cases will get involved if there any issues relating to the property of the deceased person. The case has to go through a legal framework and the final order of the court has to be addressed by each person involved in the case. Now, since every state has different law regarding the probate so the hearings of the case in the court can be different in each state.

If the deceased person has a will and has named a representative,all the assets will be handled by this person unless the judge deems this person unfit, etc.If there is no representative named in the will then the court appoints a representative who handles the property unless the decision is made. The appointed representative is called the administrator and has sole responsibility of handling the property.

The Probate Process

In the initial phase the administrator opens the case in the court. During this period he evaluates the property and collects all the property of the deceased person. Few items which come under contract of the deceased person are not held in probate and they pass automatically to the beneficiary. Any bank accounts or other things which has the clause of "payable on death" are transferred to the person named in the contract. Only those limited property that have no clear beneficiaries are accountable for probate process. After accumulating all the property, the administrator sends a legal notice to all parties involved in the case and pays all the debts and claims which remain outstanding on the deceased name. Then the administrator distributes the remaining property to the beneficiaries of the decedent as instructed in the court's verdict.

If there are any disputes during the process then the court hearing decided upon the matter and the final verdict has to be agreed upon by every parties involved in the probate process. Anyone can file the claim on the property and if the court declines the claim then the opponent can file lawsuit to claim the property. If the lawsuit is made then court has to take the case more formally and this is when major problems occur during the probate process.

Normally, probate process take a longer time and if the amount involved is huge then the process can be more problematic. But if all the parties involved work together to make a positive solution then probate process can be competed easily and the property is distributed equally among the heirs or beneficiaries.

Luis Pezzini lpezzini@pezzini.info  http://probate.SunsetStripRealty.com  http://www.SunsetStripRealty.com
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

What is an Advanced Directive?

It is not mandatory to have an advanced directive. No one can force you to prepare one.

There are two types of advance directives - living wills and durable power of attorney for health care.

Living wills are a legal document that you prepare to make your wishes known regarding health care issues and specifically end of life issues. They are implemented when you can no longer make decisions on your own.

A durable power of attorney for health care is when you appoint someone (a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc.) to make decisions (relating to health care) when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

The person you appoint to make decisions for you is your "patient advocate". Your patient advocate can be any competent person over the age of 18. Before you appoint someone to be your advocate you should ask if they are willing to serve in this capacity.

Being a patient advocate is a very great responsibility. They will be able to make decisions for you concerning all medical treatments (and the right to refuse medical treatments on your behalf). They can also make decisions related to donation of your organs after you die.

It is important to appoint a back up person should your original appointee be unable or unwilling to make your decisions should the time come.

It is not necessary to use a lawyer to prepare either of these documents, but to be legal they must be witnessed by persons other than your relatives (spouses or heirs).

Once prepared you should make several copies. You should give a copy to your physician (or other health care provider). And should you be admitted to the hospital, you should take a copy with you. This is one document that should not keep secret.

Can I Change My Mind?

Yes, you certainly can. It is simply a matter of tearing up the document and notifying anyone that has a copy to tear it up.

You can prepare a new living will or durable power of attorney for health care at any time.

Who Should Prepare An Advanced Directive?

Everyone. No one can tell when a major life upset will occur. Everyone should have these documents prepared.

Thank you for reading my article.
Can you please help me? I have written over 50 articles for various online publications. Can you help me make money with this talent?
I have a website: http://www.bostonterrierville.com or you can email me: LuYoungRN@yahoo.com
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Should You Include Your Spouse When Forming a Small Business LLC?



In this video it talks about a couple of reasons why you may not want to have your spouse included in your LLC. But every situation is different.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Is the Difference Between a Living Trust and a Life Estate in Real Estate Investing?

Both a living trust and a life trust are legal documents that are designed to facilitate financial planning for a homeowner. They are also both designed to aid in the seamless transfer of a property after the death of a beneficiary of these trusts.

A living trust is a document that is designed to avoid probate and allow the beneficiary(s) to control the destiny of the assets in the trust even after the death of the beneficiary. Essentially, the beneficiary, who is usually also the trustee, can determine the distribution of the assets or their liquidation and the proceeds distributed figuratively from the "grave".

By avoiding probate, the beneficiary can save a lot of money and probate battles between wannabe heirs. These probates can be very lengthy and even take many years to resolve. Between estate taxes and attorneys' fees, many estates lose 30% - 60% of their value before the liquidated assets are disbursed to the proper heirs as determined by the court.

Possibly more important to the beneficiaries of these living trusts, is the assets of the trust are not shown in the public record as with simple probated wills. The trust must pay income taxes and estates taxes and the trust does not save the beneficiaries any money in these areas.

Finally, in the event the trustee (beneficiary) is incapacitated, the trust contains language so a new trustee can be installed without a court order and this new trustee can take appropriate action with regard to the medical condition of a beneficiary. This avoids having to get a court order for a medical procedure which could take so long that the patient could die - or live an unreasonable time.

The life estate is also a legal document that is actually a special deed to a property that titles the property in such a manner that when the owner of the property dies, the additionally named individual on the deed automatically becomes the new owner as soon as the former primary owner's death certificate is filed in the public record. This instrument also bypasses the probate process but does not avoid any Federal estate taxes due.

The difference in the living trusts and the life estate is that the living trust is a document that contains specific instructions for a trustee in the manner and disbursement of many assets owned by the beneficiary of the trust. The property remains in the trust with a different trustee until the terms of the trust instrument are carried out by the trustee.

The life state is simply a special deed that conveys a single property from a primary owner to a second person when the primary owner is deceased and the death certificate is filed in the Clerk of the Court's public records. Both instruments bypass the probate process.

Dave Dinkel has over 40 years experience in Real Estate Investing which has given him a unique perspective into the Real Estate Market. Learn the "No Money, No Credit, No Risk" proven methods of today's successful Real Estate Investors. Visit America's Online Real Estate Investing Association created by Dave Dinkel to get you started as a Real Estate Investor today! Click the link Now http://www.AOREIA.com
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Can Someone Sign My Living Will For Me?

This is a situation that is more commonplace than expected. As we get older, it is increasingly difficult to write anything, including our own name. We know exactly how to do it, but our hands don't want to cooperate.

Unfortunately, we have to keep writing even in old age. There are bills to pay, checks to sign, applications to make, and a wide variety of other documents. Even worse, or signature changes over time. If you have a bank that is good with customer service, they can know these differences, and is best to update your signature cards every year or--they then know it is you signing the checks.

The signature can become be jerky or illegible. As such, is not uncommon for an adult child to take over as far as signing checks, contracts, credit cards, and alike. Here are some rules to be followed in such cases.

Having someone sign for you.

This is can be done if the testator (person signing the will) cannot otherwise sign. This is usually because of infirmity of age. As stated above, this is typically done by an adult child. There is no requirement of having signed for your parents before, although that certainly helps.

The key is the testator must clearly direct the other person to sign. There can be absolutely no doubt in this situation.

Many states have amended their probate codes to make this available. There must be an express and clear direction by the testator to have this done. Further, the signing must be in the "conscious presence" of the testator. This typically means in the physical proximity of the testator, who can readily be aware the signature is being placed on the paper. But, this does not mean it has to be in the testator's direct line of sight.

Example: Joy has been relying upon her daughter for some time to sign paperwork. On the occasion of her signing the will, Joy was sitting upright in bed, but has trouble moving her head from side to side. It would have been easy for her to turn completely to the left and see the signing on a table nearby, but this was not possible. So, with the table as close to the bed as possible, the daughter instructed her mother that she was now signing it. Her mother could not see the actual signing. But her mother could easily hear and understand what was going on. This will be sufficient.

The bottom line: make sure there is express authorization from the testator and at least two witnesses in attendance. And the right living will form to confirm all of this.

Sue Malone is the founder of NationalLawDocs.com, the Internet's premiere site for attorney-prepared online legal forms (providing do-it-yourself documents for over 25 years). All documents are fully editable, come with free updates for life, reasonably priced (starting at $25), and have an unlimited license for their use. Call for a free consultation--all reps have a law degree. (800) 995-9434. Or visit: [http://www.NationalLawDocs.com].
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Getting Your Record Expunged

If you have a criminal record, you're no stranger to the ill effects it can have on your life. Background checks are increasingly common among employers, property owners, and various employment licensing agencies. A new study published by the Office Journal of the American Association of Pediatrics, indicates that around 25% of Americans have been arrested at least once by the age of 23. Even a criminal charge from many years ago can affect your chances of being hired or rented to. For some people, depending on various factors of which we'll discuss here, expungement may be a way to eliminate the hassle that is caused by a criminal record.

What is expungment?

Expungement refers to a process in which a person with a past criminal record petitions the court to have his/her record sealed (expunged). A sealed record is then unsearchable by the state and federal agencies that provide information for background checks. A person who has had their record expunged would proceed as if the criminal charge or conviction never occurred. Therefore for questions on employment or rental applications that ask if you have a past criminal conviction, it would generally be appropriate to answer 'no'. Generally, the FBI and police officers still have access to your criminal record even after it's expunged.

The expungment process

Specific processes for expungement will vary from state to state as each state dictates their own expungment laws. A good first step would be to obtain a copy of your criminal record to make sure you know the exact charge(s) that are on it. Usually you can obtain a copy of your criminal record from your local county courthouse or from your local police department. If this is not true for your area, those agencies should be able to direct you to the appropriate place to obtain that information.

After obtaining a copy of your record, you'll need to do some research on the specific expungement statutes and processes in your area. A quick Google search should provide you with results. Paperwork will have to be filed with the court and then a court date will be scheduled. However, don't be fooled into thinking it's a quick and easy process. It is generally advisable to get a lawyer representation as it will increase your chances of success.

In general it is easier to get an older conviction expunged as opposed to a more recent one. The likelihood that an expungement is granted will also depend on the type and severity of the conviction. You will increase your chances for success if you can show life changes that have occurred since you were charged with the crime. For example, if you were charged with a drug related charge 10 years ago but have since successfully completed treatment and have remained sober since then, you should include that information your petition. Make sure that your petition is thoroughly completed as some states have time limits imposed regarding how long you have to wait to re-petition the court.

If you need to consult a lawyer over a record expungement, please contact. http://www.eLawsuit.com
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do You Need a Registered Agent When You Form an LLC or Corporation?

When you're busy planning the formation of an LLC or corporation, its easy to overlook some details, even the important ones. Every corporation or LLC must have an agent who is designated to receive official correspondence and notice in case of lawsuit.

Registered agents are also known as resident agents or statutory agents, and they serve an important role in your company.

In most states, the resident agent must be either an adult living in the state of formation with a street address, or a corporation or LLC with a business office in the state that provides registered agent services. If you form an LLC or incorporate in your home state, any officer or director, or manager or member in the case of an LLC, may act as the resident agent. Having a third party act as the statutory agent comes with some advantages, however, including increased privacy and reducing the risk that you will be surprised at home with court papers for a lawsuit.

Doing Business in Another State

So, what happens after you incorporate in Delaware, for example, and then decide to start doing business in New Jersey? At this point, you will need registered agent service in the new state. The agent's address can also be where the state send annual reports, tax notices and notices for yearly renewals of the business's charter.

You will be required to maintain a resident agent in any state where your company does business, and the agent's office address and name must be included in the articles of incorporation giving public notice.

Finding a Statutory Agent

Most corporate service companies provide registered agent service, which includes forwarding any tax notices or official documents from the Secretary of State and the acceptance of legal service of process to forward to your company. Basic levels of service include a legitimate working office, compliance management, information shielding and document organization as well.

Agents, or statutory agents, serve an important role. After all, you will lose by default if you can't be served or the paperwork isn't passed to you properly, so a reliable registered agent is your first line of defense against opportunistic lawyers. It's usually best to choose someone else as your registered agent, as you don't want to be served in front of employees or customers in a working office, and a good agent will protect your personal information from appearing online.

Christine Layton writes for USA Corporate Services, a business service company specializing in helping business owners incorporate or form an LLC and decide which of the types of companies is best for their business.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Living Wills Review: Five Reasons Why You Must Have A Living Will

Living wills and advance directives have lately become the hot topic of discussion with the case of the brain-dead pregnant women in Texas going to the courts to decide. While her individual rights versus Texas state law makes for a heated debate, the real question for most Americans and Canadians should be 'What happens if you don't have a living will and the unthinkable happens?'

Every year, thousands of people have an unfortunate accident that leaves them in an incapacitated state. This is where a living will comes into play. A living will, which can also be known as an advance health care directive or advance directive, is a set of instructions given by you, allowing for what types of medical intervention and treatment you would like to receive, if you are in a state of mind where you cannot make decisions for yourself. If you don't have a living will, you leave these decisions to someone else. So, there by itself, is the number one reason for having a living will. Now let's break down the other 4 major reasons why you should have a living will:

2. Avoid Family Fighting. Imagine what not having a living will could do to your family. If you haven't made the medical decisions that are usually addressed in a living will, depending on your state or province, often times it is left up to your family to make these pain staking decisions for you. Imagine your spouse having to decide whether or not to keep you on life support. Now imagine your mother, or brother, disagreeing with their decision. The emotional toll this can take on a family could be devastating. The case of Terri Schvaio often comes to mind. Back in 1990 she collapsed and fell into a coma for more than two months, and then was declared to be in a vegetative state. Years later, her husband made the decision, against her parents' wishes, to have her removed from a feeding tube. The argument went on for seven years. You can imagine the emotional toll your family would suffer in a similar situation.

3. The Medical Costs. In some cases when a person is incapacitated, the prolonged period of keeping a patient alive can outlast the medical insurance, leaving the extra costs to be paid by the patient's estate. Many times, when the decision is made by the spouse, or other family member, to artificially extend one's life, the medical costs involved can cause an extreme financial burden. It is not unheard of for families to end up losing everything because of this. If you were incapacitated, could you imagine your family losing their home, or possibly facing medical bankruptcy?

4. The Legal Costs. All it takes is for two family members to disagree and here comes the lawyers. This happens in many cases, like Terri Schvaio's, where lawyers for the disagreeing parties spend weeks, months, and even years, arguing for their side, all the while the costs are adding up. And eventually someone will have to pay those bills. Imagine the life insurance you left to protect your family, ending up in the hands of attorneys, all because no one knew what your wishes were. These situations happen all too often. You having a living will can avoid a catastrophe like this.

5. Peace of Mind. Simply put, when you have a living will, you are more likely to have the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be known, and that family members won't have to fret over whether or not they made the right decision. It is perhaps one of the most responsible, unselfish acts you can take by keeping the heart wrenching decisions out of the hands of your loved ones. If the unthinkable were to happen to you, there would be no reason to compound your family's suffering.

Now that you have the five major reasons to get your living will, you have to decide what to include in it. There are many points to consider, like if you should appoint a medical power of attorney (POA), where you would designate someone you trust to make decisions that may not have been covered in your living will, or adding a 'do not resuscitate' directive. These are some of the many items you will want to discuss with your family. Also consult your attorney for advice on your state's laws when drafting a living will.

I heard it said that having a will is like writing a final love letter to your loved ones to assure they get everything you want them to have. When you think of it in these terms, a living will would be an extension of that love letter, preventing unnecessary pain and hardships for your family, just in case you were to experience an incapacitated state for any length of time.

Gerard Cassagnol is a professional writer and has written several articles on legal issues of the day. He is an advocate for affordable legal representation and coverage in the USA and Canada. He has had a legal plan membership for over 15 years, and is now a marketer of legal plans and identity theft plans for individuals, families, and small businesses.
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