Halloween is the season of spooky and fearful things. So, what are the things that keep you up at night?
Many people are concerned that their family and loved ones are taken care of. One of the things that you can do to help you sleep at night is to make sure that your affairs are in order and that you have all the important and necessary documents in place that everyone should have.
So what important documents should everyone have:
Last Will and Testament: This document goes into effect after someone has died and makes the determination on what will happen with all of their assets and property, including who should take care of their children in the event that they die with minor children based upon the person’s expressed wishes. If you die without such a document, the state determines what will happen with your assets and if there are no living relatives, the state actually gets to keep your money.
Living Will: This is a document that is a declaration to the world on what your wishes are with respect to extra ordinary care to be given to you in the event that you are terminally ill or have permanent brain damage with no hope of recovery. So, if you don’t want to be kept alive by artificial means, this tells the world what your wishes are and there cannot be any dispute by family members or others that may wish to keep you alive under circumstances you have decided are not the way you want to continue living.
Health Care Proxy: This document designates who you wish to make your medical health care decisions in the event that you are unable to do so. It also permits this person to make decisions with regard to who has access to you when you are in a hospital setting or institutional setting. It is extremely important if you are unmarried but have a life partner or significant other, since family members could bar that person from your bedside if there is no legal document to protect this relationship.
Determination of a Person’s Remains: Now this may seem really ghoulish but may be quite necessary. If you have a significant other that is not a biological relationship or a legally recognized relationship such as a marriage, only family members have legal rights to determine what happens with your remains after death and what type of funeral or service you may have. If you have other wishes or someone in your life that you wish to make this determination, you must have a document specifically giving that person the right to have control over your remains as well as being able to determine what type of funeral or who gets to maintain possession of said remains if you are cremated. Unfortunately, people don’t always think of this and unfortunately biological family could hold your loved one hostage if you are not in a legally recognized relationship at the time of an unexpected passing. Really, this has actually happened!
Durable Power of Attorney: This is a very important document that designates an agent to act on your behalf in either a very limited scope or a very broad scope, whether or not you are incapacitated. There are specific or many general powers that can be given to this agent but it is an extremely useful tool when someone is either chronically ill or incapacitated and unable to take care of their personal affairs.
If you would like to learn more about these things, please feel free to contact my offices at 631 277-8844.