Planning > Documents Everyone Should Have

Many people find themselves unprepared financially and legally when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma, and while none of us want to dwell on the eventuality of not being able be remain with our loved ones and friends, it is important to plan ahead. If your estate planning is done in advance, it will make your wishes clear, and will help your family avoid unnecessary disputes and confusion later on.

Since laws may vary from state to state, it is not the purpose of the “Financial/Planning” section of this website to offer specific advice on estate planning, however, it is generally suggested that the following documents be completed.

Will

A will is a legal document which specifies how you want the assets of your estate distributed following your death. Everyone should have a will regardless of the size or value of their estate. This is simply a sound practice which means you are planning ahead and looking out for the future of those who are close to you. By planning ahead, you can make sure that your assets are protected and that specific allocations to family, friends and/or organizations are carried out. It is always suggested that a will be drawn up by an attorney licensed in your state, preferably, an attorney who specializes in estate planning and probate. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can check your local telephone directory for legal aid societies that may be able to help. Once you have a will in place, it should be reviewed and updated as needed. Expressing your wishes by drawing up a will can also help you to keep control of certain aspects of your life you feel are important, and may ultimately provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written document in which you (“the Principal”) designate another person (“the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact”) to act on your behalf in making property, financial and other legal decisions. The most common types of Powers of Attorney include:

  • Durable Power of Attorney
    A Durable Power of Attorney allows the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact to act for the Principal even after the Principal is not mentally competent or physically able to make decisions. The Durable Power of Attorney may be used immediately, and is effective until it is revoked by the Principal, or until the Principal’s death.
  • Nondurable Power of Attorney
    A Nondurable Power of Attorney is often used for a specific transaction, such as the closing on the sale of a residence, or the handling of the Principal’s financial affairs while the Principal is traveling out of the country. A Nondurable Power of Attorney takes effect immediately and remains in effect until it is revoked by the Principal, or until the Principal becomes mentally incompetent or dies.
  • Springing Power of Attorney
    A Springing Power of Attorney becomes effective at a future time when an Agent, or another third party, such as the Principal’s physician, determines that the Principal in no longer competent to handles his or her own financial affairs. A Springing Power of Attorney remains in effect until the Principal’s death, or until revoked by a court.

Powers of Attorney are important legal documents, and should be given only after careful consideration. A licensed attorney in your state can:

  • Provide you with advice about the powers that are appropriate to be delegated
  • Provide counsel on the choice of an Agent.
  • Outline the Agent’s legal and fiduciary obligations while acting under a Power of Attorney.
  • Ensure that the Power of Attorney is properly executed and meets all legal requirements.

Advance Health Care Directive

An Advanced Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, is a written document in which you (the Principal) designate another person (the Agent) to make health care decisions for you in the event that you become unable to make those decisions yourself. By naming someone you trust in this capacity, you will have a person to actively participate in the decisions surrounding your health care. Copies of this document should be given to your attorney, your physician and your appointed Agent.

Free Information Packet on Mesothelioma

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