It seems like a lot of people think they can cheat death (the "D" word) by not mentioning it or not writing a will. But like it or not, death is a part of the circle of life. I know death is an uncomfortable subject that most of us avoid talking about but I had been thinking about it a lot this past week, as last Friday was the anniversary of the death of my best friend who died 9 years ago in a skiing accident.
Then last Monday I attended a funeral for a friend's father. He had been quite ill for a few years and had put things in order prior to his death, so that his family knew exactly what to do. As I thought about death, it reminded me that there are some very important documents that many retirees just haven’t taken the time to complete like a Medical Power of Attorney (MPA) and a Will. So, let’s start with the Medical Power of Attorney. Usually, a married person has the right to make medical decisions for their spouse in time of an emergency. But, if you're single, then it’s crucial that you have an MPA in place. Begin by asking yourself who you would trust with your life because that’s the person you want making medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. I have 2 people listed on my MPA in case the first one cannot be reached. (for an example of an MPA, see: http://www.expertlaw.com/library/estate_planning/medical_power_of_attorney.html)
As for your Will, obviously, the law differs from state to state on distribution of assets, but by writing your will, you’re the one in charge. You can specifically direct who gets what instead of having your assets distributed according to state laws. While a handwritten will, signed by 2 witnesses is legal in many states, I recommend you consult an attorney to ensure you’re in compliance with state laws.
So, if you haven't done it yet, why not take some time this week to start creating these 2 important documents. Knowing your wishes will make it so much easier for your loved ones to handle an emergency situation for you.