Everyone over the age of 18 to have some form of estate planning documents in place. In most cases when someone is setting up a plan they are thinking “what will happen when I die” however there are important documents that everyone should have in case they ever become incapacitated, are unavailable, or just need a helping hand. These documents are an advance health care directive and a durable power of attorney.
Advance Health Care Directive
This document allows you to select an agent who will step in if you are ever incapacitated and need someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. The Health Care Directive allows your named agent to speak with doctors, make any and all medical decisions and determine what happens to your body at death. Additionally, it allows for you to make decisions in advance, you can include your medical wishes in this directive to guide your agent and help them make decisions.
Durable Power of Attorney
Similar to the Health Care Directive a Power of Attorney allows you to select an agent to step in and make financial decisions on your behalf. A durable Power of Attorney is active the minute you sign it, this means that you do not need to be incapacitated or have doctor’s notes for your agent to act. This is helpful if you are ever on vacation, maybe as a student you choose to study abroad and need someone to handle your affairs while you are away, or if you are in the hospital and need someone to pay monthly bills while you are unable to.
If your child or grandchild has recently turned 18 or is getting ready to go out into the world you should talk to them about creating a few estate planning documents. Before a child turns18 their parent or guardian had full access to their Medical records and was able to make financial and health care decisions now. For an adult child, this is no longer the case and everyone needs to have documents in place to allow someone to step in if the need ever arises.