As we age and go through life changes, we must ensure that our important documents are updated. As your family changes and grows, you’ll have to amend your will and codicil. You may want to modify who is the executor of your estate or create estate trusts. The following are priority documents that should always be current.
The Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is the document you need to have in place in order to instruct your loved ones (or the person you appoint to speak on your behalf) about your wishes should you be unable to do so. It’s also good to plan for your own needs later in life. There are two kinds of Power of Attorneys:- one for Property and one for Personal Care.
A Power of Attorney for Property allows someone you appoint to make financial decisions on your behalf related to your home, your bank accounts and any other assets. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care allows someone you appoint to make decisions regarding your medical treatment should you be unable to do so. Personal care may also include decisions about shelter, clothing, hygiene, social activities, support services, routine management of your financial affairs, legal matters, and safety.
You should meet with a lawyer who will determine if you—the person granting a power of attorney—is mentally capable of doing so. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s prudent to visit a lawyer before you or your loved ones notice any signs of illness, memory or cognitive issues.
The Will and Codicil
A will is more than just an inheritance document. It’s the outline of what should happen when someone dies. Wills can cover everything from how money and property should be distributed, to who should take care of minor children in the event of a fatal accident.
There is also something called a living will which is a valuable document that shares the plan for what you would like should you become incapable of making critical decisions regarding medical care and interventions. If you fall ill and cannot communicate, the living will is the directive for physicians, informing them of your desired treatment. This document can offer invaluable guidance to family members, eliminating the need to guess what you would prefer in terms of treatment.
Codicils are legal documents that outline a minor change, or addendum to your last will and testament.
Do Not Resuscitate Order
A Do Not Resuscitate - or DNR - order lets medical professionals know that you do not wish to have excessive interventions to keep you alive. Generally, a DNR will prevent CPR from being attempted and other resuscitative measures that follow it (such as electric shocks to the heart and artificial respirations by inserting a breathing tube). Be sure to check your region’s rules for what is an acceptable DNR order.
A trust is another method of estate transfer; a way for you to determine how the family property will be disbursed or held for your beneficiaries. A trust agreement is a document that spells out the rules that you want to be followed for property held in trust, and it gives an outside party (the trustee) the authority to handle your estate. Common objectives for trusts are to reduce the estate tax liability, protect property in your estate, and avoid probate.
Having all these documents ready and accessible by your loved ones will remove the stress from your family who may have to make decisions on your behalf. Most importantly, having these documents up-to-date will also give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your wishes are clear and documented.
Additional articles by Marion on this topic, are linked below:
30 Documents Before You Die - Essentials
30 Documents Before You Die - Health Care
30 Documents Before You Die - Proof of Ownership
As a Lifestyle 55+ Master and Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)® Marion's knowledge and expertise is beneficial for seniors' and their families when a later-in-life move is being considered. Knowing what questions to ask, what options may be suitable plus the legal, financial and emotional matters that come into play is key to helping seniors make their decisions by choice, simply not by circumstances! You can count on Marion to minimize stress and uncertainty while also providing top-notch real estate services. To view reviews of Marion's services visit Rate My Agent.
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