Tips & TricksTips for Seniors

Rich or Poor – Legal Documents Everyone Must Have!

Rich or Poor - Legal Documents Everyone Must Have

Congratulations!  You’re either retired or planning for it.  Stay on track with a quick review to insure you have these important legal documents in place.  If you already do, review them annually or after a life-changing event.

A Medical Directive, AKA Advanced Directive. You’ll set the extent of care you want to receive when you are ill or incapacitated. Do you want heroic measures – artificial support for breathing and eating? Will you decline invasive measures if the option is a lesser quality of life? This document speaks for you even if you can’t speak for yourself. At the end of life it helps family members, doctors, or others know your wishes.

A Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows you to appoint a family member or other trusted party to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Do this before your illness or incapacity, so fast and effective decisions can be made. A guardianship petition is a slow and costly process.

A Power of Attorney for Finances allows you appoint a person with the specific or unlimited powers and time frame to conduct your financial business.   Read about them here (Link to article “Why Use A Financial Power of Attorney).

Limited. A limited power of attorney gives someone you choose the power to act in place of you for a very specific purpose and time.

General. A general power of attorney is comprehensive and gives your attorney-in-fact all the powers and rights that you have yourself.
Durable. A durable power of attorney can be general or limited in scope, and it remains in effect after you become incapacitated. .
Springing. AKA conditional POA can allow your attorney-in-fact to act for you if you are incapacitated, or are otherwise unable to conduct your own financial business.

A Revocable Trust, is one of most important documents for anyone to include in their estate plan. It works as a will, allowing your estate to avoid probate, thus saving your heirs the time and expense. It is also kept out of the public record, allowing privacy. You have control over your assets until you choose otherwise or become incapacitated.

During your lifetime, you act as executor of your own living trust, controlling your estate and transferring assets to beneficiaries, and deciding what property (home, bank accounts, other valuables) goes into the trust and who will receive it.

Even if you have limited assets it is smart to ensure your estate does not have to be probated. Save your heirs a long and expensive wait, where the court determines the outcome in every state in which you hold property.

A Will lets you tell the world who should receive what when you die. Everyone, especially those with dependent children or grand-children should have a will because it allows them to name guardians for the children, so a court does not decide for you.