What Legal Documents Should Be in Place As You Age?
White Plains, NY (Law Firm Newswire) December 24, 2013 - There are a few essential legal documents that every adult should have.
People tend to think about putting these documents in place as they get older, but they are actually important for adults of every age — and there are certain milestones in life that make them essential.
Some may envision putting a last will and testament in place later in life. However, every adult with any assets should have an estate plan, including a will and any necessary trusts. If this plan has been neglected earlier in life, then it deserves specific attention when there is a change in marital status, when children are born or when major assets are acquired. A will is especially important for parents of minor children, because such a document should name a guardian in the event of the death of both parents.
Advance health care directives ensure that a person's wishes are fulfilled in specific medical situations when one is unable to make such decisions independently. These documents should be in place from age 18, when a person's parents can no longer make these decisions legally. One type of advance directive is a living will, which expresses an individual's wishes concerning the types of lifesaving measures that should or should not be undertaken in different emergency situations.
An individual can also establish a health care proxy, thereby designating another person to make health care decisions in the event of incapacitation. Though many think of these documents as necessary only for the elderly, people of any age can experience medical emergencies requiring such vital decisions.
Another document to consider is a durable power of attorney, which affects both financial and health care matters. A durable power of attorney designates someone to attend to an individual's financial affairs in the event that they are unable to do so, due to the effects of conditions like Alzheimer's or other dementia. Although such ailments are usually associated with old age, these documents should be in place long before the possibility of such a condition becomes a major concern.
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