Do you have the four documents every adult needs?

Do you have the four documents every adult needs?  Do you even know what those four documents are?  Every adult needs a will, living will, medical power of attorney and statutory durable power of attorney.  (Although there are other documents that may be advisable for certain people, these four are the bare minimum that every adult should have.)

The will sets forth how you want your estate handled in the event of your death.  It can also provide for guardians of minor children.  Even if you do not have children or property right now, you should still have a will.  It is important to remember that when someone dies, the probate court wants the ORIGINAL will.  So, keep your will in a safe place and make sure there are people who know where it is kept.  Do not keep it in a safe deposit box because it may require a court order to get it opened.  It is also a good idea to ask your loved ones where they keep their original will.

A living will, also known as an advanced directive, lets doctors know how you want to be treated in certain end-of-life situations.  A living will is only applicable in very limited situations.  Having a living will can avoid putting family members in a difficult situation, and it can keep you from being kept alive in a vegetative state against your wishes.

A statutory durable power of attorney gives someone the ability to engage in financial transactions on your behalf.  This document can take effect immediately or if can take effect upon disability or incapacity.

A medical power of attorney gives someone the ability to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to make them yourself.  This person cannot override the wishes you set forth in your living will.  This would apply to all situations except those contained in the living will.  As long as you are able to make your own decisions, the medical power of attorney would not apply.



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