Whether you are single, married, have children or not, every American should have these 5 legal documents in place regardless of wealth. These documents are discussed by Alexis Martin Neely in her 4 minute CNBC video segment.
What Are They?
1. Kids Protection Plan. If you have children, you need to have a plan in place that names legal guardians. But it’s not enough to name guardians for the long term, you must also name “first responders” someone who can get there immediately and is close by. Without the first responders, you risk that your kids could be taken into child protective services if the long-term guardians can’t be located or can’t arrive timely. In addition, an emergency ID card should be carried in your wallet that states you have minor children and lists the phone numbers of the guardians – in case of an emergency.
2. Will. Again, regardless of how wealthy you are, you need to make sure your money and personal belongings get to who need them in the event of your death. A will allows you to decide who handles your affairs as well, rather than leave it up to the court to decide.
3. Living Trust. If you have assets, other than personal belongings and bank accounts. Assets more substantial such as a house, investments, or insurance, a trust will keep it easy for your loved ones to be protected. If you don’t have a living trust, a court could end up deciding who gets your assets with substantial expense and time delays involved.
4. Power of Attorney. Once you turn 18, you need a financial durable power of attorney. This legal document allows you to specify who you want managing your finances and affairs if you should lose capacity. Without one, again, the court will decide, substantial expense is involved, and it may not be the person you wanted to handle your finances.
5. Advanced Health Care Directive. Similar to a power of attorney, an advanced health care directive lets you name who makes medical decisions for you if you’re unable. It also includes your wishes and desires regarding life support and other medically related issues.
If something happens to you, you don’t want to leave it up to your family to figure things out. By having the right documents in place and a relationship with your Personal Family Lawyer, you can ensure that your documents remain up to date and will work when you need them the most –allowing for a smooth transition to your loved ones.