It’s been quite a while since my last Primer installment due in part to the fact that this latest section addresses a few legal definitions regarding estate documents – a challenging topic that took some time for me to hash out. I also write about the many hats worn by caregivers.
What is an “estate” and what are “estate documents?” Simply put, an estate is the collection of personal and real property owned by an individual. Upon death, this property or estate is (depending on whether or not the decedent had a will or trust and according to the laws of the state) distributed among named beneficiaries after which point the estate ceases to exist. Estate documents are those documents – power of attorney, will, or trust – which grant authority and also inform as to how the decedent desires his or her estate to be distributed.
To read the full text, please click here, or on A Terminal Illness Primer for Caregivers in the header at the top of the blog.
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I get the impression that you’ve learned a lot from going through this whole process. Legal proceedings always seem to be so unbelievably complicated, but I think you’ve explained it all very well – it can’t have been an easy bit to write, from a literary point of view. This is yet another section of your primer that could be very usefully read by anyone, whether or not they’re currently coping as caregivers.
It’s so helpful to those left behind if you’re able to get your affairs in order before you die, and yet most of us give little thought to it in our lifetimes. I had one elderly relative who did an excellent job of organising things for once she was gone, and it made a big impression on me. She had apparently thought of everything, she must have taken time to speak to her lawyer and had even cleared out extraneous paperwork from her house so that only the bare minimum was left for my dad to dispose of. I hope I can be like that when I’m close to the end, and it certainly bears thinking about now. My dad had to nag me to get a will written up and I’m glad I’ve done it because you never know what’s going to happen to you.
Your point about the Power of Attorney versus Durable POA is a very interesting one, I didn’t know about that. It may be that Scots law is different, but much of what you’ve written is certainly applicable here, too. I really hope that your brother’s estate is wound up without too much delay, I’m sure it could be a matter of great distress to the relatives to have a lengthy legal process to go through on top of everything else.
I remember my dad saying to me that I was going to have quite the education once all was said and done. It’s been daunting in so many ways, frustrating, slow, maddening…but it certainly has made me more aware of how I would like things to go when the time comes. I hope to be like your relative – gosh, how thoughtful! – and have everything squared away for those left behind.
Reading all that really makes me want to get my own things in order. It’s amazing that leaving this life is so legally complicated.