At one of my recent educational events, a man asked what he needed protect his family. The most essential thing everyone must have, regardless of their assets or wealth or family situation, are what I call “disability documents.” Let me tell you a story about a family I am working with that did not have these three basic documents in place – before they needed them.
Jane was a healthy, 58 year old mother of two boys. She was married to a husband who earned a really good living. Jane and Bob were planning their retirements which were just a few short years away. What they did not know was Jane inherited a rare condition in which nerve cells in the brain break down over time. No one in the family saw it coming. Many describe the symptoms of HD as having ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – simultaneously. Within a short time, she was no longer able to take care of herself.
Beyond the emotional, financial and physical damage, her husband was unable to legally make many decisions for her or manage her assets. The family was forced to go before a judge. Now, many of her freedoms – things you and I take for granted – must be approved by a judge and second guessed by a court appointed lawyer called a guardian ad litem. Each court appearance costs hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
So what would have avoided this?
1. Property Power of Attorney. You choose who you trust to make decisions for you when you cannot make them by yourself. This person will pay your bills, decide what to keep or sell, how to invest your assets and numerous other mundane day to day decisions.
2. Health Care Power of Attorney. You decide who is going to make life and death decisions for you. Are you able to stay at home or do you need skilled care? Should you have surgery or not? What are your treatment options? Should you get a second opinion? These and many other health care decisions should be made by someone of your choosing – not a judge or some court-appointed lawyer.
3. Living Will – Do you want to die naturally? Do you want extraordinary measures to be taken to prolong your life – even artificially? Do you want to donate your organs? Just some of your organs? Do you want artificial nourishment and liquids? This document is perhaps one of the most loving things you can do for your loved ones. You make all of these very difficult and emotional decisions for them – so they do not have to at a time filled with emotion.
Do you have these important documents in place? If not, call me (731) 307-4009 or email me at email@example.com – TODAY. You do not know if you will have a car wreck and have a traumatic brain injury, or a stroke – taking away your ability to function, or get viciously attacked and left with debilitating injuries. Who will handle your affairs? Who will make your health care decisions?
Getting these important documents done is just the first step to protecting yourself and your loved ones.