Kansas City, MO asked in Estate Planning for Kansas

Q: I am 73 y/o, divorced for 27 years, grown son and daughter. I do not own the house I live in, have no stocks or bonds,

No savings or retirement. Are there advantages to my having a living Will? (Also, no life insurance)

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: "Living will" is another name for Advance Directive for Health Care, which is a document that sets forth your values with respect to end of life care. There is definitely value in having one regardless of your age or net worth.

You might have meant to refer to a Will aka Last Will and Testament. The advantages to having a Will versus no will are many: (1) You get to appoint the person you want to administer your estate, preferably someone you trust and who is capable, (2) You can state that you trust the person you appoint enough that you would want bond waived for them, which saves your estate money, (3) You can specific who inherits what, (4) And you can specify the timing of distributions if it needs to be delayed, such as for an heir who is a minor. There are other advantages as well.

If you have no will then state law determines who gets what and it might not go the way you would have wanted to. For example, if you wanted to leave money to charity, you really need a will (or a trust) do do that.

As another example, if your plan of distribution is equal to the children (which is typical), then that probably matches what state law would provide anyway. But what if one of them predeceases you? Some parents would want the entire estate to go to the then living children in that case, and you would need a will to accomplish that, because state law would most likely push the deceased child's share down to his or her children.

Those are just a few high level bullet points. There are plenty of reasons to have a will PLUS a lot of other things that comprise a complete estate plan, such as a living will, a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and more.

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