By Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho
None of us likes to think about our own mortality, which is exactly why so many families are caught off guard and unprepared when incapacity or death strikes. The COVID-19 virus is a killer for some and has turned everyone’s lives upside down. If you have no planning documents in place and you die or become unable to take care of yourself or your finances, who will have the power to act on your behalf? If you have no documents, a court in the State of Idaho will decide who has the power to represent you, who will be the guardian for your children and who will get your assets.
Proper estate planning is not just about dying. It is also about acting now to do what is best for you and your family if you are seriously ill or die. If you have basic documents you can relax, have peace of mind and get on with living.
How can you create such documents if you have minimal assets, are stuck in your home, been laid off work for an indefinite time and have little money to pay for an attorney to help?
We have provided FREE forms on the Senior Edge Legal webpage. Look in the top right corner of the home page for a link to three basic forms (or click on these links): Enhanced Durable Power of Attorney (Finances), Enhanced Living Will & Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and How to Write Your Will. Each of these forms provide instructions. The Idaho Legal Aid website has interactive forms for a Financial Power of Attorney and the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
Why do you need these three basic documents?
- A Financial Power of Attorney gives you the right to appoint the people you trust to sign checks and do modest business for you if you are too sick to take care of your affairs.
- A Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives you the option to make end of life choices, and nominate who can talk to the doctor on your behalf should you be unable to communicate effectively.
- A Last Will and Testament states who will follow your wishes after your die, who will be the guardian for minor children and who will receive your property.
Once the documents are signed, keep them in a safe place, and give copies of the Financial Power of Attorney and Health documents to your agents. Let them know where you keep the originals.
My best recommendation is consult with a qualified estate-planning attorney to determine the wisest course of action for your specific estate and circumstances. If you can’t afford an attorney and want some basic documents to cover you during this crazy time, consider using the forms described above.
I don’t suppose you have thought of anyone who could use our services? If so, please have them call us at 208-344-0375. Introductions and referrals are the lifeblood of our practice. Thank you!