A CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: Four Legal Documents Everyone Should Ask For

Dear Santa:

I have been very good this year. Please give me the following presents so that I may have peace of mind for the rest of my life.

Durable Powers-Of-Attorney:

I want to grant another person (the attorney-in-fact) the legal authority to make financial decisions on my behalf. This attorney-in-fact should be someone I trust to act as my alter ego. He or she should always act in my best interest and in the same manner as I would under the same circumstances. My attorney-in-fact will retain his powers even in the event I become mentally or physically incapacitated because it is a durable power-of-attorney. I can grant as many, or as little, powers as I want under the power-of-attorney, but the powers I want to grant must be specifically detailed.

New York State Health Care Proxy:

My health care proxy will allow me to appoint an agent to carry out my wishes with respect to health care. I will tell my agent what treatments, or non-treatment, I want performed by my treating physicians in the event I can no longer express these wishes to them directly. Of course, one limitation to the health care proxy is that it does not automatically cover the removal of artificial nutrition and hydration (i.e. feeding tubes). If I wish to have feeding tubes withdrawn, my wish must be known by my health care agent. The easiest way is to state that within the health care proxy; so please include a statement to that effect.

Living Will:

In addition to my health care proxy, I want a living will to express my wishes as to what medical care I want or do not want. I do not appoint an agent in a living will, but I can, in great detail, explain my wishes with respect to medical care. Having both a health care proxy and a living will is a good idea. A health care proxy is a product of New York State, which means it may or may not be recognized in other states. Those states that do not recognize a New York State health care proxy may recognize my living will.

Last Will and Testament:

It has been a long time, but I am finally asking for a last will and testament. My last will and testament is a legal document that indicates how I want to distribute my assets after I pass. One of the great aspects of my will is its flexibility. I can determine where my assets go and in what amounts. Recently I established an estate plan. My will is a crucial part to that plan because it allows me to establish trusts for minors, appoint who I want as an executor, trustee and guardian. This gives me great peace of mind knowing that I nominated these very important people opposed to the court.

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  1. #1 by Andrea Mercado on March 16, 2010 - 5:03 pm

    Many people know that they should have a will, but they don’t understand or realize that a will does not include or cover all situations. There are so many times in life when you have an unexpected event and if you don’t have the right documents in place it can make things extremely difficult. You can avoid a great amount of pain for you and your family if have these documents in place before you need them!

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