Over the years, when I would approach the topic of advanced directives or wills with my parents, the subject would always be re-directed. My mother never liked thinking about anyone dying, which I am sure is a topic to which we can all relate. It isn’t an enjoyable topic, but it is a reality and if you have not had the conversation with your loved ones, you need to have it now. As if a health emergency or death isn’t hard enough on our loved ones, our failure to prepare for these things can compound the devastation more than you can imagine. Working in the title industry for 23 years has made me keenly aware of the need to prepare for the unexpected. I’ve seen some horrible things happen to families when there is no will and real estate involved or when transactions have to be tied up in the court system.
A few years ago, we had a transaction where a widow was selling her home. When the title examination was complete, ownership of the property came back in the names of both her and her deceased husband. When we inquired about her husband’s ownership still being reflected on title, she gave us a copy of his Power of Attorney. What she did not understand was that the Power of Attorney was no longer valid and its powers ended when her husband died. Upon death, a Will is needed and, in this case, he had no Will. He was in his late twenties and his death was unexpected with him having passed only three months before in an auto accident. With no Will to probate, the only other option we had required that a minimum of nine months passed between his date of death and the transaction date. This could have been prevented. If her husband had a Will that outlined what was to happen with their home in the event of his death, our transaction could have gone as scheduled.
I had a stroke at the age of 37 and my husband had a heart attack at 52…neither of us would have ever expected those events to have occurred when they did. Had we not both have been fortunate enough to have recovered, at least we had all of our affairs in place and were prepared for the worst. When something tragic happens, you do not want your loved ones to be burdened with the hassle, time delays and legal costs of having to fix what could have been avoided.
Regardless of your age or marital status, if you own a home, do you…
- …have a Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Directive?
- …have a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney for non-medical related issues?
- …have a Will?
If you are missing any of the items, please have them prepared now! This is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your loved ones.
Start the dialogue – make a plan – pay it forward and make sure your other family members do the same!