Why You Need A Will Even If You Have A Power of Attorney

Now the one thing I know for sure is that all of us are going to go out the same way. Nobody leaves here alive. So, what's amazing to me is while we how we know things are going to end, the lack of knowledge regarding planning for that end, specifically, estate planning to protect yourself and your family.

So often I'll be talking to somebody at an event and they will say: “Well, I know you do estate planning, but I don't need a Will or anything else because I don't have a lot of assets and I have a power attorney, so when I pass away, I trust that person to take care of all of my assets.” Well, there's one BIG problem with that theory, and it’s that the power of attorney ceases to exist when somebody passes away! Therefore, the power of attorney is worthless upon your passing. If you don't have anybody in charge as a personal representative in your Will, then someone will have to be appointed through probate to handle your affairs. If you have a wife and multiple kids who don’t get along, it can get messy and expensive for them.

I also see the reverse scenario. Someone will say to me: “Well I have a Will and I've named ‘so and so’ as my personal representative, so they can take care of things if I get sick.” Or, even worse, I’ll have somebody call me and say their spouse is sick and they’ll say: “Well I’m the personal representative so I want to take care of things for him.” Well problem with this scenario is, with a Will, it will does not take affect until somebody passes. So if you go to a bank and say you’re the personal representative and your husband is sick and I am his personal representative in his Will and I want to take out his money because I need it to pay for his medical bills, it’s NOT going to happen.

As you can see, a Will and Power of Attorney go hand in hand. A Power of Attorney is for a while you're alive. A Will naming the personal representative allows the same person or a different person to take care of your affairs when you're gone, so that everything passes smoothly and according to your wishes, not the wishes of the state as set forth in a state intestacy statute which is what will happen if you don't have a Will.