April 16, 2020
It’s not exactly news that I have long been recommending/suggesting/begging you to make sure you have protected yourself and your loved ones by creating the MUST HAVE™ Documents: a will, a living revocable trust, a financial power of attorney, and an advance directive and power of attorney for health care.
I know many of you have followed my advice, but some of you keep pushing it off. I am not here to scold, or to shame. For some of us, issues related to becoming ill, and ultimately dying, can be so very hard to confront.
I get it. But I also think that right now those of you who have yet to create your must-have documents may be able to use this crisis as the motivation to finally get everything set up. There is so much that is out of our control in the midst of this pandemic. But we are not powerless. I sure hope you and your loved ones are embracing the vital importance of social distancing. That is how you help yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your community.
Creating your must-have documents is another way you can do something right now to calm at some of your fears of what may happen if you were to become very ill, or die. The must-have documents ensure that caring for you, and surviving you, will be as seamless as possible for your loved ones. My fervent prayer is that your loved ones will not need these documents for many years. But if ever there was a time to “hope for the best and plan for the worst” this is it. Right?
A brief outline of the purpose of each document:
An advance directive and health care power of attorney.The power of attorney portion will appoint the person you want to carry out your wishes if you become too ill to convey to medical caregivers what level of care you want. In the Must Have Documents, you will also create an advance directive (sometimes called a living will) where you will spell out your medical-care wishes. Do you want to be put on life support? Fed intravenously? I know those are difficult questions to ponder, but if you don’t spell this out, you are opening the door to family anguish and potentially, arguments.
Financial power of attorney. This appoints someone to step in and help manage your bills and investments if you ever become too ill.
Living revocable trust.A living revocable trust makes it incredibly easy for your estate to be passed to your beneficiaries. Without a revocable trust, your heirs may need to go through the lengthy and sometimes very costly probate court process before your assets can be given to beneficiaries. With a revocable trust your heirs will not need to go through probate.
A will. Not all your assets can or should be made a part of your trust. A will is where you spell out who is to inherit certain possessions—the china, the record collection, jewelry etc.— when you pass. A will is also imperative if you have minor children; it is where you designate their guardian.
Are you ready to finally take care of these important documents?