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The Big 4 Legal Documents for Seniors

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Listed below are four important legal documents that older adults should have. #1, #2 and #3 are needed by all; #4 is optional depending on your specific circumstances.

  1. A Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, where you name a trusted person to manage financial affairs for you in the event of your incapacity and in accordance with your directions.
  2. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, where you name a trusted person to make medical treatment decisions for you if you become incapacitated. This document should be combined with communicating with and educating the person named and your family about your medical treatment desires, and your values and views.
  3. A Will, where you name your heirs (those who will receive your assets when you die) and your executor (the person who will manage and distribute your assets when you die).
  4. A Trust, where you name a trustee to manage your trust assets while you are living and manage and distribute the assets when you die. Special kinds of trusts may also be used to protect your assets in the event that you (or your spouse) should ever require long term care either at home or in a nursing facility.

Here are links to more information on each of these important legal documents.

Power of Attorney: Issues to Consider

Just the Basics: Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Your Survivors Will

Using Powers of Attorney and Living Trusts to Avoid Guardianship

The Family Asset Protection Trust

Using a Trust to Protect Your Home from Nursing Home Costs