A serious health diagnosis can force some tasks – especially ones you’ve been putting off – to the top of the priority list. Will lawyers know that estate planning is one of these tasks that’s often left for another day, as people don’t like to think about sickness or death when they are feeling well and of sound mind. However, a negative diagnosis can quickly change things, and creating an estate plan is one of the best ways to get some peace of mind. If you are facing a healthcare crisis and you’d like to get some basic estate planning documents in place to protect your family and assets, here are three to consider creating as soon as possible:
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to name someone to make financial decisions for you if you’re too ill to speak for yourself. Having a power of attorney document is also critical if you’re facing a long rehab or recovery period, as it will allow your agent to help you pay bills and keep your accounts current until you are able to take back control over your financial affairs.
A living will is a document that tells healthcare professionals your wishes regarding your medical care. It specifically involves the life-saving measures – or lack thereof – you want to be taken if you’re facing a serious illness. The living will is often part of a comprehensive Healthcare Directive, which also names an agent of your choosing who can make decisions on your behalf. Essentially, this document is just like a power of attorney except that it deals solely with healthcare concerns.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament gives you the ability to plan out the distributions from your estate to your loved ones after you’ve passed. It may be a good time to re-examine an existing last will and testament if you’re currently facing a serious illness to ensure that it still meets your needs.
The documents listed above are just the basics; there are a number of other estate planning documents and tools that are available, depending on your personal situation. You can speak to an experienced attorney to determine what, if any, other documents you should consider to help strengthen your estate plan. You should also make sure that your beneficiary designations on bank accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies are all up to date.
If you would like to learn more about estate planning, or if you’d like to discuss your existing estate plan or create a new plan, please give us a call to set up a consultation with one of our qualified will lawyers.