Do I Need a Will?
Each and every adult should have a Last Will and Testament. Buying forms on the internet or at a local office supply store typically is one of the things that you “get what you pay for”. Most people do not have a clear understanding of legal issues and implications of decisions they make when they do their own legal drafting of important documents and records. Good legal advice before you need your estate planning documents can save your family members a great deal of financial and emotional hardship later. If you do not plan well before tragedy strikes, the results could be disastrous for your family members that survive you. As part of a good estate plan, you should have at least three documents.
The first is a Living Will to designate who you want to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so. It can also be called a Health Care Directive or Health Care Declaration. You should be the one to decide who will stand in your shoes if you cannot make your own medical decisions. That way your doctors and medical professionals do not have to guess or wonder what you may have wanted them to do if you can’t tell them. They are not put in the middle of family disputes when others may have differing opinions about how to handle your medical decisions. You should discuss with your designees what you want or don’t want for medical care. You can talk with them about donation of organs and other issues they will need to know how you feel and what you want to happen if they are called upon to make decisions for you. Most people avoid having those dreaded discussions, but unless you tell your designees now while you can, they will never know what to do if they must make decisions for you.
The next document you need is a Power of Attorney to appoint a designee and alternates to make financial decisions if you are unable to do so. This is a powerful tool that should not be delivered unless or until it is needed to alleviate any temptation to act on the authority if you are not incapacitated. In too many situations, people that the grantor selected may misuse the authority to your disadvantage so it is important that you understand the form’s authority before you sign the document and discuss it with your lawyer in advance.
The last document each individual should have is a Last Will and Testament. There are many options available to individuals to consider when preparing their final will. Those options should be discussed in detail with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
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If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, email or through my web site.