Are there any essential legal documents everyone should have regardless of how much money or assets they have? Answer is, definite yes. These documents clarify who will be in charge in case of your incapacity, and what will happen after your death. Also if you a parent, having a guardian instructions is very important. Here is the quick list of documents that you should consider.
· Power of Attorney: In case of your incapacity, you can assign someone to act on your behalf for your financial or other accounts. This document can authorize someone you trust to pay your bills, take care of your utilities and any other financial affairs.
· Healthcare documents: These documents designate your wishes for the end of life procedures (think of the Terri Schiavo case). Also, these designate who gets your healthcare documents, or who can make health decisions for you. These documents include:
- California Advance Healthcare
- Living Will
· Will and/or Trust: In case something happens to you, a Will or Trust designates who will be an executor or trustee of the estate, and how your assets are distributed. Talk to your attorney to find out whether a Will or Trust best suits your needs. I am a big proponent of a Trust as it avoids probate (you can read more about this topic here). A Trust Package plan should also include a Pour-over-Will and all of the other documents mentioned. It is best to discuss your personal situation with a trusted attorney.
· Guardian Instructions: If you are the parent of a child under 18 years old, creating guardian instructions is very important to ensure people you trust to take care of your child in case something happens to you. You can also include specific instructions about your views on education, religion or any other matters, such as medical conditions or food allergies.
Additional Items to Review:
It is a great idea to review beneficiary designation forms from time to time to be sure they reflect your current wishes. If you were recently married, divorced or had more children, look into the following policies/plans to verify they reflect your wishes.
· Beneficiary designation(s) on your life insurance policy
· Beneficiary designation(s) on your retirement plans
· Beneficiary designation(s) on your investments accounts