We have all heard stories of families that found themselves in a tailspin because a loved one passed away or became incapacitated without a proper estate plan. No matter what your age, you could really leave your family with a mess to clean up during an already very emotional time if you get sick or die without the right legal documents in place. It is important to help make things as easy as possible for the people you love by having your affairs in order. Here are five documents to consider creating right away.
- Last Will and Testament and/or Living Trust
A will is a document used to leave instructions about what should happen to your property after you die. In addition, you can use a will to name guardians for your minor children and even your pets. Depending on your situation, a Living Trust may add another layer of protection and control to your planning while allowing your family to avoid the potential costly (and slow!) probate process after you die. Your loved ones will be relieved to know that your final affairs will be administered smoothly using these documents and that they are properly carrying out your wishes.
- Durable power of attorney
A power of attorney allows you to choose someone to act on your behalf financially and legally in case you cannot make decisions. If you do not designate someone, your loved one’s hands could be tied if you are incapacitated. Many people put off creating a durable power of attorney because they think they are relinquishing control. This is not necessarily the case, as you can create a power of attorney that only takes effect if and when you are incapacitated if this is an issue for you.
- A medical power of attorney or living will
This document is different from the power of attorney described above. The medical power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate to medical professionals. A living will also allows you to explain in advance what type of care you do or do not want in all types of medical situations.
- List of important documents
Make a list directing your family on how to find all of your financial and legal documents. The list should include life insurance policies, annuities, pension or retirement accounts, bank accounts, divorce records, birth/adoption certificates, real estate deeds, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. If possible, include a list of bills and accounts so that someone can settle and close them.
If you do not have these documents in place, call our Houston Will and Trust Lawyers today to find out how easy and quick the process can be. Not only will your family benefit from your thoughtfulness, but you will be able to make your own decisions instead of leaving them to the courts. Schedule a consultation by simply calling (281) 845-8538.