Five documents to prepare you and your family for the unexpected.
Everyone at some point will go through the devastation of death or incapacity within their family. Having the correct legal documents drawn up can prepare and protect your family financially, and give you peace of mind that your family will not have any financial worries or emotional anxiety in the event of something fatal happening to you.
In the UK, It is estimated that two thirds of parents with children under the age of 18 do not have a will in place. This could mean that your children may not get adequate financial provision and care in the event of your death due to the rules of intestacy under UK law.
A well written will details how you would like your assets to be split and explains your wishes to the ones you leave behind, sparing them emotional stress and strain at a difficult time. The document can also detail who you would like to be legal guardians of your children.
2. Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney document states who will be in charge of financial matters and decisions in the event of your death or incapacity where you are unable to make decisions yourself due to a condition such as Alzheimers or injury after an accident. The person you appoint will be able to look after your bank account, savings and investments. They will also be able to buy and sell your property on your behalf.
3. Emergency information sheet
If an emergency arises, it’s important that your family or your caregiver knows what to do in the event of your death or being hospitalised. The document can detail where to find your legal documents, bank account details, medical details, health information and phone numbers and addresses for relatives,
4. Health care proxy
A health care proxy means the person you choose has the legal right to make decisions about your healthcare on your behalf if you are unable to as you are unable to communicate. When you decide on your proxy, make sure the person you appoint clearly knows and respects your wishes.
5. Living will.
This is similar to a health care proxy, however this is more specific in detailing to hospital staff and caregivers the sort of treatment you want if you are terminally ill, or unable to communicate. Living wills are also known as advance directive, health care directive and physicians directive.
Prior to drawing up your documents, it is worth contacting a professional lawyer to check that nothing has been overlooked and to get accurate advice on their completion. Once you have all five documents in place, make sure you re-visit them to make sure they are up to date to avoid any problems for you and your family should the unforeseen happen.