Estate Planning: Documents to live by
If you can believe it, we are already at the end of January. With all the beginning-of-year struggles and excitement, there is something to keep in mind – your New Year’s resolutions. It is never too late to become better organised.
One of the best ways to become better organised is to put life’s most essential documents in place. No one really wants to think about serious illness or death. While you may not want to think about these things at the start of a new year, going without planning can be problematic on many levels. If you want to make sure that your loved ones and your assets are secure, it is time to get better prepared by having those essential documents in place.
Consider having these three documents prepared and signed:
Last Will and Testament
You really meant to get around to updating your Will after your wedding… the birth of your child… your divorce… your big move… but you just haven’t found the time. The right time is now!
A Will is the only method by which you can ensure that your assets, including items of monetary and/or sentimental value, are properly protected and distributed in accordance with your wishes. A Will can have a great influence on the well-being of the persons that you care about, and when you draft a Will you ensure that they will be looked after when you are no longer there for them.
Ensure that your Last Will and Testament leaves a legacy of love and not a deluge of destruction. Your Will should be a practical document in simple language which records your intentions and is easy to understand and execute.
A Living Will is a document regarding healthcare at the end of your life. It states that any treatment that would otherwise lengthen your life should be withheld in specific circumstances, such as being in a permanent vegetative state, irreversibly unconscious or terminally ill.
Through a Living Will, you express the desire to die a natural death, free from having your life extended artificially using life support in any form such as a life support machine, tube feeding, or medication. In other words, by way of a Living Will, you tell your family and your doctor that you do not consent to being kept alive artificially.
A Living Will provides peace of mind as it enables you to express your choice of medical care should you be unable to communicate. A Living Will can also assist in settling disagreements amongst family members and medical professionals regarding appropriate treatment.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is one of those phrases that you hear quite often, and there can be some very real implications for a person that signs it over. Understanding exactly what a Power of Attorney is, and how it can affect you after certain life events, is very important.
A Power of attorney is essentially a notice by way of which one person, known as a Principal, appoints and authorises another person, known as an Agent, to act on their behalf and make decisions for them. This can be for specific matters (Special Power of Attorney) or for all matters (General Power of Attorney).
A Power of Attorney is a valuable tool when you are absent or become too frail to physically sign documents.
These are a few suggestions to help you get administratively organised. It is all about peace of mind and knowing that your loved ones are cared for and aren’t put in a position to make difficult decisions. Having these documents in place might be one of the final acts of love you show your family.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)