There are three types of documents that most people should have.
In order of importance, they are:
- Medical Power of Attorney/Designation of Health Care Agent; and
- General Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
A Will is the document that you prepare to say who you want to receive
your property at death, and who you want to handle your estate. If you
have minor children, you would also want to name the person that you want
to be the guardian of the children, and the trustee of the minor’s trust
(minors are not able to take gifts directly; the gifts need to be held
in trust for them until they are adults).
Medical Power of Attorney/Designation of Health Care Agent
A Medical Power of Attorney/Designation of Health Care Agent is a document
that allows you to name an agent to make health care decisions for you,
if you become unable to make those decisions yourself. Without this document,
neither your spouse nor your children have any authority to make health
care decisions for you, except in an emergency, without a court appointing
them as your guardian.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
The general Statutory Durable Power of Attorney is a document that allows
you to name an agent, or “attorney-in-fact”, to make other non-health
care decisions for you. This would include things like paying your bills,
and generally handling your affairs. You can make this effective immediately,
or reserve those powers until you become unable to handle your own affairs.