Life is known to throw some surprises. While you can never predict what will happen and when, you can lessen your family’s stress by ensuring that you are prepared. If you become incapacitated or pass away, the last thing you want your loved ones doing is scurrying around for information, or worse, navigating probate nightmares. Gather the following assets today for peace of mind tomorrow.
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Some items should never be shoved in the back of the household “junk drawer”, including these important basic documents that should always be accessible in case of an emergency. Many people keep all of these items together in a notebook and/or security box for safekeeping:
If you want help getting your legal documents in order or are ready to move forward with creating a will or trust, contact us.
Once you have the basics listed above safely in place, begin securing the following key legal documents:
Without a will, your loved ones are at the mercy of the state upon your death, with legislators stepping in to decide how to distribute your assets among your blood relatives. With a will, you call the shots for your family (it makes sense, doesn’t it?) and provide protection for your loved ones from their creditors, divorce, or even their own mismanagement. This document is also the place where you nominate guardians for your minor children.
What if you are still alive but become too ill or incapacitated to manage your assets? A Property Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone to act for you regarding your property during your life if for some reason you are unable to make the decisions yourself.
While a will and Property Power of Attorney ensure that your assets are handled within the scope of your wishes, advance directives let you make arrangements for your care if you become sick.
A living will makes your wishes known so that if you become too sick to make decisions about your care, you will still receive the medical attention you do (or don’t) want. An advance directive also makes it easier for family members to make difficult healthcare decisions for you during a time of stress.
With the additional layer of protection of a durable power of attorney, you can designate a person you trust to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself.
A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorization designates who can access your protected health information. Without such a document, a hospital or other provider might not be able to tell your loved ones any information about your care, or even that you are in their care!
A trust holds title to your property during your lifetime. At your death or incapacity, your successor trustee manages the assets according to your instructions in the trust. Since the trust continues at your death, no probate process is required, potentially saving significant time and money and providing privacy that may be lost with probate. The trust provides similar protections that a will provides, including protection from the beneficiary’s divorce, creditors, and mismanagement.
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