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5 Legal Documents You Should Put in Place Now


As many Americans age, they protect themselves by putting certain formal, legal protections in place. What are these protections, and how can you use them to make your retirement years safer and less stressful? Here are five valuable documents to put in place now.

1. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

This document names who you would like authorized to make decisions about your health care if you aren't able to do so yourself. You should talk with this person before signing the document so that they are aware of your wishes regarding things like life support services, certain procedures, and long-term care.

If possible, have your designated proxy sign a HIPAA release so that they can access your medical records. Then, provide this documents to all your medical providers for their files.

2. Will

A will is something all Americans should have in place. But for older people, it's vital. A will ensures that your wishes will be followed if you pass away. It will also help reduce family conflict among your children and grandchildren because decisions regarding your property and sentimental items will already have been made.

You can name specific items in your will for certain people, or you may wish to only address larger and more valuable items. A will offers you an opportunity to let others know how you feel about them and leave any final messages you wish. 

3. Power of Attorney for Finances

Along with your health care, your finances are an important part of caring for your needs and wants if something incapacitates you. This type of power of attorney is specifically related to your financial decisions. It allows your designated proxy to spend money for your care, pay bills, represent you in court, and do other financial transactions.

Power of attorney for finances can go to the same person who will make your health decisions, or you may wish it to assign someone else. Be sure that this person is trustworthy with money and will use your funds only for appropriate uses. 

4. Medical Directive

A medical directive is also referred to as a living will. This directive allows you to make some decisions about end-of-life care in advance. It may cover things like do-not-resuscitate orders, life support wishes, religious convictions, and pain relief measures, as well as a list of any medical procedures you do not wish to have.

This document works well when paired with a medical power of attorney because it frees up your loved ones from making certain difficult decisions on their own. You can basically make the big decisions and leave the smaller ones to your proxy. 

5. Revocable Trust

A revocable trust works in conjunction with a will in that it operates while you are alive. You essentially become the executor of a trust that includes whatever property you desire to include. A trust allows you to designate a successor trustee who will take over if you can't make decisions. It protects your assets and makes it easier to use them to take care of your needs. It also keeps everything private.

How to Organize Your Documents

Having these documents in place does you no good unless your designated proxies know about them. Work with an attorney to put them in place so that they are all legally binding your home state. Then, have your designated individuals meet with your attorney to discuss in detail your wishes and any questions they have. 

For help getting started on these vital pieces of paperwork that will protect your future, talk with the law professionals at Gabert, Williams, Konz, & Lawrynk, LLP, today. ‚Äč