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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > Living and Dying With No Estate Plan

Living and Dying With No Estate Plan


It is easy to procrastinate working on your estate plan, because death happens to those who are diligent about estate planning and those who are not.  What is the worst that can happen if you do not make any written plans for your end-of-life care, the final disposition of your remains, or the distribution of your property?  Thinking in detail about your old age and death is scary.  In some ways, estate planning is the world’s least fun “choose your own adventure” story.  You get to think about the worst things that can happen if you are dead or incapacitated, and then you get to think of less undesirable alternatives, but in either case, the story involves you getting sick and dying.  It’s hard to think about it all at once.  Start by imagining that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is visiting you and showing you what will happen if you do not make an estate plan.  The best way to get the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is to contact a Bronx estate planning lawyer.

You Probably Won’t End Up in the Potter’s Fields, but Someone Will Have to Pay for Your Burial and Cremation

Everyone eventually ends up dead, but even worse is ending up as an indigent decedent.  An indigent decedent is someone who dies without enough money to pay for a burial or cremation, and no one else comes forward to pay for the final disposition of the decedent’s remains.  Approximately 1,500 indigent decedents die in New York City each year.  When no one comes forward to make plans for their burial or cremation, their bodies are buried on Hart Island in the Bronx.  These burial grounds for indigent people are colloquially known as “potter’s fields,” and while the city is supposed to bury the bodies in such a way that the decedents’ relatives can easily find them if they try, it does not always work out in practice.  In other words, if you do not leave any plans for the disposition of your remains, you could end up in an unmarked grave.

If you write a will but don’t have any money to pay for burial or cremation, a relative or anyone acting on your behalf can apply for financial aid from the Office of Burial Services (OBS).  OBS can prove up to $1,700 per decedent, for burial or cremation and a funeral service.

End-of-Life Care Can Be a Minefield of Conflict

Even if you know there will be nothing to inherit, you should write instructions about your end-of-life care.  The standard of care requires healthcare professionals to provide life-prolonging treatment for as long as they can.  If you have preferences of when to begin hospice care, you should state these in writing while you are still healthy.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can help you make a realistic estate plan even if you own little or no property.  Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.




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