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Important estate documents everyone should have

Most people in the Kent area don't wake up in the morning expecting that day to be their last day or to have a medical condition where they are no longer able to make decisions. And for most people their day will go on as planned but accidents and other events happen every day. It is important for everyone to have certain legal documents, including a will, in place in case the unthinkable happens.

First, a person should have a power of attorney for both property and health care. The power of attorney for property will appoint a person to have the ability to make financial decisions for the person who can no longer make decisions. The decisions a person is appointed to make can be for all financial matters or just specific ones such as selling of a house. A health care power of attorney is a person appointed to make health care decisions if the appointer no longer can. It can include whether life-saving devices should be removed, organs donated and other important matters. Family members should be made aware of whom the health care power of attorney is and what the specific decisions and wishes are in regards to health care choices.

In addition to those important appointees, a person should also have a living trust and a will. A living trust for a married couple transfers assets into the trust while the couple is still alive. At the time of death the trust does not go through probate to administer the assets. If a person becomes incapacitated the named successor can use the assets in the trust to care for the person.

A solid financial plan can help a family feel comfortable about what would happen if they become incapacitated or die. Financial plans help a person feel at ease knowing their wishes will be honored.

Source:, "Help Squad: What legal life documents should I have in place?", Cathy Cunningham, Aug. 13, 2015

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