If you die without a Will, the law of your State provides for the distribution of your assets. So, it's not necessarily bad if someone dies without a Will. But, if you are alive and cannot give direction about your care to your doctor, things can become complicated and expensive. Often, someone has to go to Court and have a guardian appointed. That's why I urge all of my clients to have an Advance Directive. It's a legal document that combines a living will with a medical power of attorney and often includes directions about organ donation and disposition of your body. Some of the people I see hesitate and procrastinate because of bad information.
One of the common misconceptions is that your doctor won't work as hard if you are an organ donor. This and other myths are addressed on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) website. The facts are: "If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician. Many states have adopted legislation allowing individuals to legally designate their wish to be a donor should brain death occur, although in many states Organ Procurement Organizations also require consent from the donor's family."
So, don't hesitate. Get your Advance Directive done as soon as possible. Go here to get a link to a form for your State And, you should also consider having a durable financial power of attorney so that your financial affairs can be handled without the appointment of a guardian. Finally, if you don't have a Will, do that too.
Attorney George Meng is a partner at the Maryland Law Firm Meng & Alpert, LLC. Mr. Meng concentrates his practice in the fields of Estate and Trust litigation and Real Property litigation however, he has extensive experience with Maryland Personal Injury litigation.