You know you shouldn’t leave home without your wallet. You also shouldn’t leave home without two key legal documents.
Just like wearing a bike helmet or putting on a seatbelt, these two documents are designed for your legal safety. Every adult needs them. What are they? In California, they’re called the Advance Health Care Directive, and a Durable Power of Attorney.
If you can’t make important medical and financial decisions who will? With the right legal documents, you can choose the person you trust the most the help you when you need it most. Statistically, most of us will experience some period of incapacity.
Picture this: your husband is in a bad accident today on his way home from work. He’ll recover, but in the meantime, he is completely unavailable to make financial decisions. It sure would be nice to borrow some needed money from his 401(k), but until he wakes up, he’s completely unavailable. Even though you’re married, the plan still requires his signature to make the loan so you can keep things as normal as you can for you and your children. You need a well drafted Power of Attorney to protect you and your spouse for situations just like this.
How important is putting the right people in charge? Recently basketball star Lamar Odom was in a coma for four days in a Las Vegas hospital. Despite the fact that he had nearly finalized his divorce from Khloe Kardashian, she was still his medical decision maker. And while it worked out for Lamar, how about you? When you’ve finished, or are in the process of a divorce, who do you want making important medical and financial decisions? These are documents that should be updated right away.
Part of the reason these documents are so important is that they not only put the right people in charge, but they can keep you out of court. No sane person wants to go to court – its expensive, it takes so much time, and its super stressful. With a conservatorship – that’s where the court declares you incompetent – you might have people fighting over who is to be in charge, fighting over if a conservatorship is even necessary, or maybe claiming someone – a relative or caregiving perhaps, is stealing. It can get real ugly, and in the meantime, the person who needs help is stuck in court and in limbo. But if you have a well-crafted plan in place with the right legal documents you can avoid putting yourself or your family in this kind of court battle.
You have insurance to guard against financial risk, put these two specific legal documents in place for you to protect against legal risk.