Four Legal Documents That Everyone Should Have

Mark Rosenberg

June 25, 2016

Last will and testament.

A will is a key part of every estate plan. In it, you name the beneficiaries that you want to receive your assets after your death. Your beneficiaries might include family, friends, and charities. You also name a guardian for your young children on the chance that you and the other parent die while the children are young. And you name someone to oversee the administration of your estate and see that it is distributed according to the terms of your will. This person is typically known as an executor or a personal representative.

Durable power of attorney for finances.

The following three essential documents are designed to provide direction in the event you are ever mentally incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs or make decisions on your own.

The durable power of attorney for finances gives the person you choose the legal authority to manage all or part of your business and personal affairs if you become incapacitated. This person is known as your agent or attorney-in-fact. If you become incapacitated, your agent can step in and pay your bills, deposit your income, file your tax returns, oversee your investments, and so on.

Health care proxy.

A health care proxy, also known as a durable power of attorney for health care, is the legal document you use to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. This person can be whomever you choose, for example, your spouse, another family member,or a friend. Naming a health care proxy can help avoid conflict among your loved ones regarding your medical care.

Living will.

Have you ever considered the type of care you want to receive if you are in an end-of-life or permanently unconscious situation? If so, conveying your choices regarding hydration, feeding, and resuscitation in a living will can help ensure that your wishes are carried out and remove the burden of making such tough decisions from your loved ones.

If you do not have these four essential documents in place, please consult an estate planning professional for help in creating them.

Back to List