Do You Have A Will?
If you have put off getting a will, it's time! If you feel you can take care of this on your own, there are many sites online that will guide you through the process. On the other hand, if you need a more complicated will for various assets, you should contact an attorney who deals with estate planning.
Covering Your Children:
If you have children under 18 years of age, consider getting a guardian named in your will. Should something happen to you and/or your spouse, the courts will read through your wishes and appoint someone as a guardian if you don't one. Naming a guardian is not an easy process so read all you can about appointing a guardian or contact an attorney.
Regarding Your Assets:
You should clearly state who gets what after you pass away. You can make a very simple will that divides everything among your children and spouse equally or if you have specific items you want to go to each one in your family, separately.
Keep in mind, there is no law that you have to leave your assets to your family members. Children really don't have a say but if you have a spouse, they could contest the will and probably get some of your assets.
Consider Creating A Living Will & Power Of Attorney:
Even if this seems unpleasant, if something were to happen to you causing you to become incapacitated and unable to handle your daily financial activities or plan for future healthcare solutions, someone will have to be in charge. I don't know anyone who wants a court to intervene in personal issues but someone must have the legal authority to act on your behalf or the court will.
To keep from running into this situation, find someone you trust and make them the legal authority to act on your behalf. You need to create documents known as a “durable powers of attorney”. There will be 2 documents, one for financial matters and the other for healthcare. The person you elect will be known as your agent or attorney-in-fact. Within these documents, you can make it clear that these documents will not come into effect until you become unable to take care of things. Once you have signed and the documents have been notarized, they will be legally valid.
You Need The Following Documents:
• An Advance Medical Directive (living will)
• Durable power of attorney for healthcare
• Durable power of attorney for finances
Either a living will or advance directive will provide information regarding your healthcare providers and your wishes when you pass away. You can easily state that you want all necessary care to relieve pain but you do not want extreme measures such as CPR under certain circumstances. If you have an on-going medical condition, you might want to go into greater details.
You will use your DPOA (durable power of attorney) for healthcare to give someone you trust the authority to carry out your wishes in your advance directive and make other medical decisions if needed.
A durable power of attorney for finances will give someone the power over your assets. This can be a very important step for the benefit of your family. Your spouse might need access to your checking account, if they don't at this time, to pay the mortgage or other important bills. If you don't have a DPOA, your family would have to go to the courts and ask for someone to be appointed as a guardian to handle your funds and then submit their request to the court.