Do you need a will if you don't have any assets?

3 answers | Last updated: Feb 07, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My grandmother doesn't have any property or money in the bank except for her monthly Social Security check. She has a joint bank account with my mother, but my mother doesn't have a power of attorney. Does my grandmother still need a will even though she really doesn't have any assets? They live together in NJ.


Expert Answers

I doubt if your grandmother needs a will. As you grandmother has no assets, aside from funds in her joint account with her daughter (your mother), what purpose would a will serve? The cautious, conventional lawyer's response would be"”of course she needs a will; everyone does. I disagree with this conventional wisdom. [I often disagree with conventional wisdom.] Even after your grandmother's death, your mother las the legal authority to remove any funds in the joint account.

Your mother might want to obtain a legal document authorizing her to make health care decisions for your grandmother if she becomes incapacitated and can no longer make her own decisions. Your State Medical Association should be able to provide your mother with the form, or at least show her how she can get it.


Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Very helpful. I am a senior citizen, do not own any property and my adult son is on both of my checking account & meager savings account as a joint accounts. I have had some lawyers tell me I should have a will anyway! Didn't make any sense to me at all


A fellow caregiver answered...

I AM NOT SURE I UNDERSTAND... WHY WOULDN'T YOU HAVE A WILL. THERE ARE SO MANY BENEFITS AND REASONS, I GUESS SOME OF YOU WOULD SAY 'POSSIBLE' BENEFITS AND REASONS TO HAVE A WILL, THEN WHY WOULDN'T YOU? I DON'T SEE MYSELF BENEFITING BY NOT DOING ONE. WHETHER I DO A WILL OR I DON'T DO A WILL, IT WON'T AFFECT ME, BECAUSE A WILL IS NOT FOR THE LIVING, BUT IT CAN HAVE DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES WITH THOSE LEFT BEHIND. DIFFERENT THINGS CAN HAPPEN, UNFORESEEN SITUATION ARISE, AND WHEN THEY DO, WE WILL NOT BE AROUND TO HELP. I JUST DON'T SEE WHY ONE WOULDN'T DO WHAT THEY COULD DO TO MAKE A PAINFUL EVENT, OUR PASSING, LESS DIFFICULT FOR THEM. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.