Wills, Living Wills, & Powers of Attorney

Who needs a will?

Since most everyone dies possessing property, most everyone needs a will. State law decides what happens to property in the estate of a person who dies without a will. State law attempts to distribute the property according to what most people want, but it doesn’t always work that way. The default plan normally distributes property to relatives. Someone who leaves behind a girlfriend or boyfriend, or even a fiancé, will not be able to provide them with any inheritance unless there is a valid will. There is almost no exception in the law to provide otherwise.

What happens if you die without a will?

State law has a default will for any person who dies without a will. Commonly, the spouse and children of the decedent will take the property. If there is no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents will take the property, then siblings, grandparents, and children of the grandparents. If no close relation can be found, the property will eventually belong to the state.

As part of the probate process, the creditors of the decedent get first shot at the estate property, after certain allowances for a spouse and children.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (“POA”) is a document in which you, as the "principal," give authority to your "attorney-in-fact" (who need not be a lawyer) to act on your behalf. The scope of the power can be quite limited – for example, the purchase of a single real estate investment - or almost unlimited. You can even grant the power to make gifts of your property, but not to make a Will.

All powers of attorney end at the death of the principal.

If you have any questions concerning our services, or if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please contact Attorney Starkes by phone or via email. In the Columbia area call (803) 758-2882 or outside Columbia call toll free at (866) 605-7800.

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