Sick, dying, medicated, or deceased; we can’t always predict when life changing events will come. Will a court or someone you don’t know have to make decisions for you during those events? Will a court tell you or your family what to do, or would you like to make those decision now while you still can?
Everyone Needs a Last Will and Testament
Although that sounds like an easy answer, most people have failed to go to their local lawyer to get the documents created that protect their family and that protect their assets when sickness or tragedy hits. People just don’t expect tragedy to hit heir family, and, when it does come, people have failed to put in place the basic documents that protect assets and that keep the patient or the family in control of decisions being made. People are more likely to sign up for satellite TV service than to discuss a Will with a local lawyer, and the TV bill is likely much more expensive over the course of just a few months.
Everyone needs a will. It’s true that I have advised a few people that the family may end up not using the Will if all of the person’s belongings have legally been transferred, but that works in only a few cases. That situation takes careful planning up front, and it still needs the detailed advice of a lawyer to be successful. Not many families can pull it off, and their are still several other documents that must be considered other than just the Will.
What the heck is a Healthcare Proxy? This form, or set of forms, is an absolute must! It will come. There will be a time when we just cannot make a decision due to illness or medication. If we have done the right thing, then we have named someone to speak for us during those times of sicknesses. It’s not just a Living Will. A Healthcare Proxy is a form that you create now that names a person to help make all healthcare decisions for you when aren’t able. Without such a form, who has the last word about what you want; the hospital? Yeah, I am sure that the hospital really knows my wishes during a tragedy or illness. No matter who you name, they must follow the wishes that you have made in advance. You can actually control the decisions being made about your own health.
Why should you consider a Power of Attorney as part of your plan? There are many situations that need a POA, but, when sickness or tragedy hit, life can be much easier for you and your family if someone is named in advance to make decisions when you cannot do so. The POA is a document that allows someone to step into your shoes and to make different types decisions for you. These decisions can be related to much more than just health issues. This document can give a person either very limited authority or very broad authority. In those situations, they are acting as you. This grant of authority can be a blessing when you need the help, but caution should be taken to protect against abuse of that power. It happens in the most unlikely situations.
Is a Trust Agreement only for the rich? Absolutely not. Although the ins and the outs of Trust Agreements will be a topic for another day, Trusts can be created prior to or after death, and many different things can be placed in a Trust. Trusts have many uses, but they can allow property to be controlled and given away over time and based on the rules that you put in place now. What better way to remain in control of your property when you’re gone or to even take advantage of certain tax benefits?
A Will, a Healthcare Proxy, a Living Will, a POA, or a Trust are very serious documents that should be taken care of now as part of your estate plan! You may not need them all, but get the advice now for both your sake and the sake of the people that you may leave behind or in control. Whatever you do, go sit down with a local lawyer and don’t rely on the Internet to create these important forms for you! You and your family will be happy that you made the trip.
There is no legal advice intended in this article, and the accuracy of the information is not guaranteed. The information presented in this article may not reflect the most current legal developments, and a lawyer should be consulted prior to your reliance on the information provided.