Simple estate planning documents can save you thousands
Mr. and Mrs. Walker owned a lovely home in the middle of Morris County and also a beach house at the Jersey shore. They were and thought of themselves as regular folks and did not live on more than an average salary. When John got sick and fell into a coma he was taken to the hospital and he went through a cycle of recovery and relapse so that he spent slightly more than four months in either a hospital or rehabilitation facility or home.
The doctors tried everything they could think of in order to return John to his family. He never regained the use of his faculties. He passed on and never regained his active life. Nancy had medical insurance but was left with bills totaling more than $135,000. Neither John nor Nancy had a Last Will and Testament. Nor did they have Living Wills (Advanced Medical Directives). Nor did they have General Durable Powers of Attorney. When John got sick, Nancy did not know where the money was to pay the mortgages on each home.
When she finally found John's checking account and savings account, she found that they were in John's name alone and she could not access the money needed to pay the doctors or the mortgages. Her choice was to hire an attorney and go to court to ask the Judge for an order using John's money for the payment of these and other regular family bills. A power of attorney, available for less than $250.00, could have saved her the several thousand dollars that the court action required. Not to mention aggravation, late charges and additional costs encountered just about everywhere.
The worst was not having a Last Will. Nancy had to petition the court to become the administrator of her husband's estate. This required her to hire another attorney to seek the permission of the court to distribute what was seen as essentially her own money. Many thousands of dollars was spent in order to do what simple estate planning documents are designed to do. Don't proceed into middle age without a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will and a General Durable Power of Attorney.