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  • Writer's pictureTenaya Insurance Services

4 Essential Documents Everyone Should Have and Why

There are certain documents that everyone should have in place to protect their estate, their family, and everything they've worked so hard to build and accumulate over their lifetime (or will continue to accumulate.)

But many people are either unsure of where to start, what these documents are, or are unaware of the steep consequences for their family if they don't take care of these things.

So we're going to walk you through what you should have in place and why.

1) Durable Power of Attorney

This appoints another person to be able to conduct business, legal and financial matters for you until you die if you become incapacitated and are unable to make these decisions yourself.

Why do you need it?

Let's say an accident or illness suddenly puts you in a position where you are unable to make decisions for yourself. A durable power of attorney allows the person you've chosen to act on your behalf to do just that . . . and quickly. This can save you a lot of time, problems, and headaches, including time wrapped up in court trying to obtain hard-to-get guardianship and conservatorship rights.

2) A will or revocable living trust

This document puts in writing who will inherit your assets when you die, and in what manner. An attorney can walk you through which of these documents would be best for you, but they can help eliminate, avoid, or postpone taxes that are payable when you die. This is where you can go into specific detail about what you want, and how you want it carried out. If you have minor children, you should appoint a guardian who would ensure that your wishes are carried out as to how you want them cared for, when and how you want them to receive money from the estate, and much more.

Why do you need it?

If you do not have a will or a revocable living trust, basically what will happen is that the government will be able to decide what is done with your assets, and it could be the opposite of what you wanted. Entanglement with the court system is expensive, time consuming, and intrusive. If you have minor children, it can delay any funds that you left for their care being available, and they might appoint the last person you would ever have wanted to watch over the assets of your estate until your children become adults. Long story short, a will or revocable living trust is where you specify the what, where, and how in detail. If you don't the government will appoint someone to do it for you. And we all know they have no vested interest in your family.

3) Appoint a health-care representative

As with the durable power of attorney, this document allows someone to act on your behalf to make any medical or healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so. It allows them to access health records, authorize admission or discharges from a hospital and make decisions about life-sustaining medical procedures.

Why do you need it?

It gives you peace of mind knowing that you have someone authorized to make decisions according to what you would want for yourself. Especially when it comes to life-sustaining medical procedures. Do you want them to exhaust every effort possible? Or do you want them to avoid this in certain scenarios? Having this in place also helps to avoid family arguments or tension about who should have the final say in what will already be an emotionally stressful situation.

4) Advanced care directives or living will

This document puts in writing the decisions you have made about your health care instructions, or wishes, for your doctor, so that your wishes are followed if again you are unable to voice them yourself.

Why do you need it?

If you become incapacitated, or terminally ill and cannot make or communicate your wishes for treatment yourself, this document ensures that your wishes and desires for what you would want are documented and will be carried out.

Most of us understandably don't like to think about finding ourselves in these kinds of situations. But the reality of life is that we will all find ourselves there sooner or later. Understanding the need for these end-of-life planning documents is important for all of us. It guarantees that we will still have the power to choose our care whether we can verbally communicate it or not.

It takes an immense amount of pressure and stress off of family members who can find it difficult to make these types of decisions without knowing what you would want, and it can save an incredible amount of money and time by going through the court system just to be able to have your family make these decisions for you when it wasn't put in writing.

These legal documents require the guidance of an attorney to insure they meet the requirements of your state, or if you already have them in place but have moved to a new state. Haven't reviewed them in a while? Have you changed your mind on what you would want? Meet with your attorney to get these documents updated.

Your family will be extremely grateful that you did this planning ahead of time. It's an act of love.

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There's no better time than now to make sure that you and your family are protected.

Call Tenaya Insurance Services at (925) 322-8073 today!

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