By now some of our news years resolutions are becoming more and more difficult—losing weight, eating better, and saving money. Did you resolve to write a will or get your “affairs in order” in 2015? Then let’s get to it!
In some ways it is not easy. It means you have to recognize that one day you won’t be around any more and that your loved ones will have to find some way to go forward, without you. We tend to procrastinate, figuring that we have lots of time.
Usually, we do. But most of my clients tell me that they feel much better once they check this off of their list, knowing that these difficult issues have been dealt with.
What does it mean, getting your affairs in order? We have attorneys licensed in West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Most of us need to have four documents prepared to be covered: a simple will, a living will, a power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. There is no requirement that you have them all, but each of them provides an important function.
- A living will or advanced directive—If you don’t want doctors to continue you on life support if it does not appear you will get better, you can sign a living will or advanced directive. While it is best to work with an attorney to be sure that you understand what you are signing and to create the living will as part of your plan, you can also sign a living will without an attorney. Sample forms for the living will are available on our website for Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
- A medical power of attorney or durable power of attorney for health care—If you become very sick, who is authorized to make medical decisions for you? The medical power of attorney identifies exactly who can make important medical decisions for you. While we encourage you to work with an attorney to make this decision, the paperwork is the same many states, including West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. A sample form is available on our website.
- Power of attorney-If you become sick or disabled and can’t manage your bank accounts or pay your bills, this is the document that will allow someone else to do this for you. A power of attorney can be limited in many ways. Many of our clients have a power of attorney that only becomes effective upon incapacity or disability. While the format of the document is simple, you should work with an attorney to make the decisions that go behind this important document.
- A simple will—If you die without a will, your property, money and belongings are divided in a manner decided by the state. A simple will directs a trusted person to distribute your assets in the way that you want. It is very important to work with an attorney to develop a simple will to be sure that it meets the requirements of your state. Some of the items you may want to include in your will may be better transferred in another way, such as through a title or trust. In preparing your will, we may also want to discuss long term life care planning, and tax planning.
This is one resolution that you don’t need to postpone. Call or email our office today to set up an appointment. All four documents can normally be completed in as little as one to two weeks.