Estate Planning

Wills, Trusts, Living Wills … What Documents Do You Need?

images (10)One question I’m asked over and over again is “What Kind of Legal Documents Does Everyone Need?” This is a question I both love and hate. And, I thought I’d answer it once and for all here.

Historically, estate planning has been all about the creation of form documents such as Wills, Trusts, Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney. While it remains important to have well-crafted documents, what has become clear over the past 10-15 years of lawyers promoting living trusts is that, for the most part, these documents are destined to fail at the time your family needs them the most.

Why is this? Because your life changes, your assets change and the law changes. And, a set of documents that you create once, stick on a shelf or in a drawer and never look at again is not what your family needs in a crisis situation.

What they need is someone to turn to, someone trusted to call upon who will guide them through the crisis situation and out the other side.

So, yes, every adult needs an Advance Health Care Directive (aka Living Will) and a Durable Power of Attorney. If you have money or other assets, you also should have a Will and a Living Trust. If you have kids, you should designate both long-term and temporary (emergency responder) guardians. There’s no excuse not to do this.

But more so than any of that, you really should have a relationship with a personal lawyer you can turn to throughout your life to make sure you always have exactly what your family needs and so that your family will have someone to turn to when they need it most.