Three Documents You Can’t Live Without!
Okay, that is an overstatement. You can, indeed, live without these documents, but your life and finances could be adversely affected if you don’t have one or more of these in place:
1. Living Will. In its simplest form, the Living Will will specify your wishes for life and death circumstances. You name an “agent” who can deliver the message of what you want done, or not done, if you are in a persistent vegetative state, are in the final stages of a terminal illness, or are otherwise unable to act on your own behalf.
2. Health Care Surrogate. With this document you choose an agent who can access your medical records and make day-to-day health care decisions for you (when you can’t). It will be his/her job to make your life the best it can be while you are still living. A person who makes ongoing medical decisions for someone who has Alzheimer's is a good example of a Health Care Surrogate.
3. Power of Attorney. This is a very important document, and its implementation should not be taken lightly. The Power of Attorney allows someone to step into your shoes and handle all your finances. Beyond just paying your bills, this person can buy and sell property, enter into agreements and even file lawsuits on your behalf. Make sure the person you choose for this important position is trustworthy and financially adept.
What happens if you are in a terrible accident (God forbid) and you are in a coma and/or hooked up to life-sustaining machinery? Or, maybe you become unable to function mentally because of dementia, a stroke or some other brain injury. What then? Who would make life and death (as well as day-to-day) health care decisions for you? Who would pay your bills? Someone can be appointed by the court system (a.k.a. a guardian) to act on your behalf. Don’t like that idea? I don’t either. Avoid it. Make your own choices while you are still of sound mind and body. Do it now!
I often say, “I’m not an attorney and I don’t play one on television.” So, ... to see how these documents would best fit your situation, seek the guidance of a qualified, experienced attorney. It’s definitely worth the time and money!