LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Aishah Theresa Mccoy

The Importance of Having Will and Health Care Documents

For many people, the thought of having a will drafted to express a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of his or her estate can generate some uncomfortable feelings about mortality. However, the reality is that everyone passes at some point, and thus it is advisable for every adult to have a will in order to protect their assets as well as their families.

There are several negative repercussions to not having a last will and testament. Without a will, the state government decides who may act as your children’s guardian. A will provides and ensures that the instructions regarding the care of your minor children are followed until they reach the age of adulthood. Furthermore, without a will, your hard earned belongings- car, bank accounts, house and other assets may be distributed in way that runs contrary to your wishes. In order to ensure that your estate is handled according to your preferences, a will is absolutely essential.

Aside from a last will and testament, there are also some health care documents that you should consider having drafted as well.

A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney is a document designed to appoint a person or persons to manage your financial and business affairs should you become mentally or physically unable to do so. This document is important if you receive Social Security benefits, Medicare or Medicaid. If you own real property, stocks, bonds or file a tax return, this document would best serve in ensuring that a trusted person who you appoint will take care of these matters.

A Health Care Power of Attorney appoints a person or persons to consent to medical care on your behalf should you suffer an injury or become mentally or physically disabled. You agent’s authority begins once your doctor certifies that you are unable to make your own decisions. This document would cover whether you wish to consent or refuse to consent to medical treatment on your behalf. It also states your decisions regarding withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment, as well as life-support.

The Directive to Physicians or “Living Will" advises your doctor to follow the instructions of your Medical Power of Attorney. It makes clear your choice regarding life-sustaining treatment or life-support systems in the event of a terminal illness or irrevocable condition.

The HIPPA Authorization allows you to name a person or persons who may have access to your medical information. This document is needed in order for your health care or insurance provider to share your confidential medical information with them.

The Declaration of Guardian of Self allows you to appoint who will serve as the guardian of your person and of your estate should one ever need to be appointed. You may also declare that you do not want a particular person to serve as your guardian.

All together, these documents are designed to meet the needs of most people when it comes to the distribution of their estate, appointment of Executors, nominations of Guardians for minor children, as well as appoint agents to make crucial medical as well as financial decisions.

It can be affordable! It is best to have these documents drafted by a licensed attorney. Many attorneys charge just a few hundred dollars to draft most of these documents all together. It is worth making this small investment in order to ensure the protection of your family and estate.

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