I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Chris Finny from the Finney Law Office. As Chris was explaining how he helps individuals through difficult events in their lives (car accidents, getting hurt on the job, medical procedures gone wrong) I noticed a common theme. Yes, Chris’s clients have been injured in some form, but the bigger more lasting effect is that they have had control taken away from them. Maybe that’s control of their body, their ability to earn a living, or just the management of their finances. Unfortunately, as I learned from Chris, those who have gone through a personal injury case know how quickly they can lose the ability to make decisions. But through effective legal planning, some of that lose is preventable.
I want to suggest some basic documents everyone should think about, so that if you do experience an injury of that type, your wishes are still the ones that are being considered.
First is a medial power of attorney and health care directive. This allows you to set out your medical wishes if you aren’t able later to communicate or enforce them. It also gives you the power to choose who will help enforce those wishes.
There’s also another power of attorney to cover your financial and legal decisions. I truly consider this one of the most important documents of an estate plan and would highly recommend everyone of any age to have one. Again, in this document, you get to choose who handles your finances and makes decisions for you or your family if you’re not capable of making your own.
And of course, don’t forget about the will. While this is the document where you get to override state law and say where your possessions go, for parents it’s a lot more. This is the ONLY legal way to have a say in who will take care of your minor children.
But if you really want control, a trust really is the most effective and detailed way to do so. A trust gives you the ability to make detailed decisions over your finances and beneficiaries, even allowing you to make sure your beneficiaries cannot touch their inheritance until an age or event you decide.
Without these documents, those left to take care of you will have to go to court to earn those rights, and the court has the final say on who will be making decisions for you. So whether you’ve been involved in a personal injury case or just know it can happen to anyone, take some control now and consider your estate plan today.