Many people think that there is no need to make an estate plan until or unless they get married. However, our firm recently handled a case that illustrates why buying into this planning myth can be very stressful and expensive for your loved ones.
Our client, we’ll call him “Bill”, was an unmarried man in his forties with a long-term girlfriend but no children. His only living relatives were siblings. Bill went into a coma after having an unexpected allergic reaction that caused him to have multiple cardiac arrests. He was put on life support and given next to no chance of recovery.
Bill did not have any planning documents in place. He had no will and, more importantly, he had not executed any document granting decision-making authority to a loved one in the event of his incapacity. Since Bill had no parents, children, or spouse, there was no one who had legal authority to take care of his property or to decide whether he should remain on life support.
Bill’s siblings had no recourse but to seek a guardianship over their brother. This expensive process led to stress and family strife over what Bill would have wanted to happen to him in this situation. Bill’s girlfriend, the person most likely to know what Bill wanted, was not even involved. Ultimately, Bill died before a full guardianship could be put in place.
Every person, especially unmarried individuals, should consider executing the following basic planning documents to help their loved ones avoid the “Bill” situation:
Designation of Health Care Surrogate (Health Care Power of Attorney)
Durable Power of Attorney
Last Will and Testament
We are here to explain these planning tools and to guide you through the estate planning process, so that your family will not suffer the needless expense and stress that Bill’s family endured.