After fielding two emergency calls from clients in the same day, both of whom needed the authority to make decisions or handle financial matters for family members who had been in serious accidents , I thought to myself “hmm, time to remind people about the 3 documents EVERYONE needs to have.”
Everyone–single or married, young or old, parent or not–needs these 3 documents:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Directive/”Living Will” and
- Last Will and Testament
I know, I know, no one likes to talk about this stuff. But it’s important–important enough for me to be writing about on a Saturday. Here’s why.
A Durable Power of Attorney gives someone the authority to make medical decisions and/or take care of your financial matters if you are incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. It doesn’t have to be a family member, but it does have to be someone you trust. You can have one person make medical decisions and someone else handle the money–it’s your choice. But pick at least one alternate person, too, just in case. And once you have chosen someone, talk to them about it, so they will know what you want them to do when/if the time comes.
A Health Care Directive (also known as a “Living Will“) is basically instructions to your doctors and the person you choose to serve under your Durable Power of Attorney. This is where you can give instructions such as, for example, “I don’t want to be put on a respirator, no matter what.” And, again, be sure that the person you have chosen to make health care decisions for you knows about your Health Care Directive–if they don’t know about it, they won’t know your wishes and may not make the decision you would want.
Finally, a Last Will and Testament is your opportunity to make sure that what you want to have happen to your estate when you pass actually does happen. If you want your nephew to get your tools because he doesn’t have any good tools of his own, this is how you make that happen.
If you don’t have these 3 key documents, you run the risk of medical treatment being delayed while doctors try to determine who has the authority to make decisions for you, someone who doesn’t have the same belief system as you being allowed to make those decisions, or a Court appointing someone you would not want–and might not even know–to manage your affairs.
I offer these 3 key documents in a flat-fee package that fits most people’s needs because I think it’s so important for everyone to have these documents. If your needs are more specialized, or your need a Trust, you will pay more for your documents because there’s more work involved–that’s just the way it is. Don’t be afraid of the cost–believe me, it can cost you a lot more in the long run (both in terms of headaches and finances) if you don’t have these documents. Let me know if I can be of help–that’s what I’m here for.