It happened to me…. Getting the call that everyone dreads… Your child has been in an accident…. Going to the hospital and then…. finding out that you don’t have the ability to make certain decisions regarding the care of your “child”, because she is over the age of 18. Believe me – when this happens it just makes everything worse.
In the state of Alabama, a citizen is considered an adult in the eyes of the law at the age of 19. Therefore parents, you need to help your younger loved ones take care of some basic – but important – legal documents. And it can easily be done – with the right tools and an hour (or two)!
Simply put, if you are over the age of 18 these are basic legal documents you need to have completed – to protect not only yourself but also your loved ones. What’s more is that many people do not realize what happens if you do not have these completed.
What are these documents and what happens if you don’t have them:
|IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE
|A legal document that provides information regarding the distribution of your assets and minor children upon your death.
|Your state’s laws determine what happens to your assets – including your children – if you do not have a Will. This can cause a lot of conflict between family members.
|A legal document that specifies what medical treatments you agree to (or disagree to) if you cannot make your own decisions about emergency treatment.
|Doctors turn to your family members for assistance if you do not have a living will and you are incapacitated. This can cause major issues, such as decisions being made that you would not agree with or even conflict between family members.
|Healthcare Power of Attorney (or Proxy)
|A legal document that appoints someone to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. This designee must be at least 19 years of age.
|Without this document in place, the courts will determine who will take care of your medical decisions. This process of establishing a guardianship or conservatorship can cause a delay in your treatment and cause conflict between family members.
|Financial Power of Attorney
|A legal document that appoints someone to make financial decisions for you. This designee must be at least 19 years of age.
|Without this document in place if you are incapacitated, the courts will determine who will take care of your financial decisions. This process of establishing a guardianship or conservatorship can cause delay in management of your financial matters and also cause conflict between family members.
A common thread in each of the above? Not having these can cause conflict between family members.
Over the years I have heard again and again, “I don’t need a will.” Sometimes the reason is “I don’t have anything” or maybe “everything is going to my spouse/son/daughter anyway.” Unfortunately, neither is typically the case. So many times, the lack of documents is quite costly to your friends and family members. It can literally tear a family apart. And with the Healthcare Power of Attorney or the Financial Power of Attorney, it can be equally frustrating for you, as the person that the court appoints may not be your choice for making these life-altering decisions.
Whether you have a lawyer or use a service such as LegalShield that provides these documents at no cost, take the time to do this today. Keep your sanity and the happiness (and sanity) of your family intact.
LegalShield Independent Associate / Director