Frequently Asked Questions for Families Without an Estate Plan

Q: Who will decide where I live?
A:A local judge would have to appoint a Guardian who would make that decision. Of course, the judge may not choose the same person you would have chosen.

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Q: Who will decide medical treatment issues?
A: Depending on the state, if your family members agree, they can make that decision. However, if family members disagree, you could be back with the local judge getting a Guardian appointed.

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Q: If I have no chance of recovery, will I be kept on life support?
A: Unless you have planned properly, you probably will be kept on life support. In most states, you will be kept on life support unless there is clear evidence you expressed wishes to the contrary; usually this requires something in writing.

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Q: How will my bills get paid?

A: Your family or friends must go to your local court and have someone appointed your Conservator. Again, this judge probably does not know you and may not appoint the same person you would choose. In the appointment process, people must testify in open court that you do not have the ability to care for yourself. It can be draining financially and emotionally. Your Conservator would have to report to the court for as long as you are disabled.

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Q: What happens if my investments need to be changed quickly due to market conditions or to reflect new circumstances and risk tolerance?

A: A court would have to appoint a Conservator. Nobody but the Conservator would be able to act for you.

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Q: What happens if my son needs his tuition paid while I’m disabled?

A: Again, if you haven’t planned, nobody can act for you until the court appoints a Guardian and/or Conservator for you. If bills, such as your son’s tuition, need to be paid in the interim, a friend or family member would have to use their savings or borrow to pay the bill.

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Q: How will my income tax return get filed?

A: If you are single, only your Conservator would have that authority.

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