A Last Will and Testament becomes effective upon your death and allows you to determine exactly who receives your property and how it is divided upon your death.
A Power of Attorney is effective during your lifetime and allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your financial affairs on your own.
A Health Care Directive is effective during your lifetime and allows you to appoint someone to manage your medical care and health care/end of life decisions if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make medical and health care decisions on your own.
Why Do I Need a Will?
You want to direct the distribution of your assets
Through a Will, you control who receives your property and how it is divided.
You can leave specific items to specific persons or leave everything to be divided among specific persons. The choice is yours.
Without a Will, your assets will be distributed by the Mississippi laws of descent and distribution. This may result in certain persons receiving more or less from your estate than you prefer. In fact, this may result in certain persons who you would like to receive part of your estate being excluded from inheriting anything, and persons you prefer receive no assets inheriting significant portions of your estate. Further, without a Will, you cannot ensure that certain special items such as jewelry or family heirlooms are received by the person you want to receive them.
You own real estate
Without a Will, your real estate may be inherited by numerous co-owners, possibly including minors. Ultimately, your property may have to be divided or sold. It may also adversely impact your heirs' ability to sell the property or obtain a mortgage on the property at a later time. Clearing up title and ownership can be expensive and can take time. Preparing a Will can save your heirs significant expense and trouble later.
You have minor children
Through a Will, you can appoint guardians for your children and trustees to manage their property. Without a Will, the Court could appoint guardians and trustees for your children who you would not desire.
Through a Will, you can ensure that minor children do not inherit real estate outright. While minors can inherit and have the legal capacity to own real estate, they do not have the legal capacity to manage the property. If your children inherit a share of your real estate, your spouse or other beneficiary would not be able to sell, rent, or even refinance any mortgage on that real estate without your children joining in, and in order for your children to join in on any such action, it will require Court intervention and approval, which can be expensive and takes time to finalize.
You have a large family
All of your heirs, as determined by Mississippi law of descent and distribution, will become co-owners of every asset that you own, both real estate and personal property. They will have to work together to manage all of your property; this can become difficult if your heirs live in different areas of the state, live out of state or if they cannot agree on what should be done with the property. The more heirs you have the more likely difficulties may arise, resulting in more money and effort your heirs will have to spend to get things organized. By having a Will, you can control what happens with your property; you can leave specific property to specific persons and you can appoint specific persons to manage and handle distributing your property. Having a Will can save your heirs significant expense and hassle and may prevent feuding among them.
Even if you do not think that you need a Will, you should consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation and discuss how having a Will could benefit you.
Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive
Whether you decide to have a Will prepared or not, you should still consult with an attorney regarding how a Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive can be beneficial to you.
If you were to become incapacitated due to illness, accident or mental incapacity, a Power of Attorney will allow the person previously appointed by you to step in and pay your bills and manage your financial affairs. If you were to become incapacitated due to illness, accident or mental incapacity, a Health Care Directive will allow the person previously appointed by you to make health care decisions for you in accordance with your wishes. Without having these documents, your loved ones may have to seek Court appointment and approval to handle your financial and health related affairs.
Taking the time to have these simple documents prepared for you now can not only save money later but can also provide you with the security of knowing that your affairs will be taken care of.