Three Key Documents for Life
Three Key Documents for Life | Written by: Sonita M. Leak, FemCity Greenville Business Member
The calls come in regularly, “We can’t find my mother’s Will,” “My cousin is in the hospital and what happened wasn’t expected and he needs to get a Power of Attorney signed and notarized,” and the infamous, “We don’t know what else to do, we weren’t expecting this to happen!”
Yes, folks, in life, THINGS HAPPEN. Some unexpected events occur in our lives that prevent us from leading the lives in which we intend. It does not have to all fall down from there. Catastrophic events in our lives, while although sudden, should be expected. For those of us who expect the unexpected, we prepare ourselves.
Having three key documents in place should certain situations put you in a bind, are relevant:
Health Care Power of Attorney – Another name for this particular document is an Advanced Directive. It is a document that informs the public who is to make decisions on your behalf should you be placed on Life Support or enter a vegetative state. It touches on who should handle your affairs while you are unable to handle them when an event that prevents you from doing so occurs.
General or Durable Power of Attorney – A General Power of Attorney document gives another person (Agent or Attorney-In-Fact) the authority to act on your behalf (Principal). Some get the Power of Attorney document confused. The Power of Attorney gives another person authority to make decisions for you, yes, however it does not prevent you from making decisions for yourself. For instance, if you are in the hospital and you have Sound Mind to make a decision not to go through with a particular medical procedure, your Agent cannot overrule that decision. A Durable Power of Attorney is much like the General, however, it gives allowances for selecting which specific duties an Agent (Attorney-In-Fact) can perform on behalf of a Principal; in other words, it lasts for a broad purpose and a broad period of time, however, it gives specificity in which an Agent may act.
Last Will and Testament – You hear about someone’s Will at least on a monthly basis. You either hear about someone forging a signature on a Will, their Will being lost, their Will being stolen, and other stories. Your Will is something that is very valuable. Some would assume that you only need to draft your Will if you have a certain amount of success, goods, property, etc., however, what would happen if you ran into any of those things and then suddenly passed away? What if you were the successor to land or property that you didn’t know about? For the property and goods you do own, where will they go or how will they be distributed after you pass away?
As a business professional and document service provider, I cannot tell you to draft either one of these or have them drafted on your behalf, but it just makes pure, plain common sense. Just think, if you become unable to handle your affairs, who will do it for you? What if you have no family, who would you designate as your caregiver and provider for your care? If you were to pass away, where would your belongings go? Would they be acquired by the State or passed down to long-lost relatives you know nothing about?
Think about your options.