Your Kids Need a Lawyer and a Plan

Doc’s note: Here at Retirement Millionaire Daily, we typically write to an audience on the brink of (or already enjoying) retirement.

But it’s not just older folks that need a plan in case of a worst-case scenario…

Today, I’m featuring an essay from one of my researchers. I urge you to read it – it’s good to review these lessons at any age. What’s more, share it with the young folks in your life.

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At 30, the last thing I wanted to think about was my death.

I (Amanda) figured I was young and mostly healthy… Surely I wouldn’t need a will yet.

But last summer, a friend of mine died unexpectedly. It was devastating. No one saw it coming… And she was barely older than me.

That’s when I realized I needed a plan. But I wasn’t sure where to start.

Then my husband’s grandmother stepped in. As a generous gift, she paid her lawyer to draw up wills and advance directives for my husband and me. (Note: If you’re reading this and already have a will, consider this gift option for your kids or grandkids.)

Before our first meeting with the lawyer, I was terrified. Would we have to decide on scenarios like brain damage, feeding tubes, and life support? Did I need to come with a list of all my assets? Should I start dictating who gets what out of all my stuff?

It turns out that you don’t need to sweat out all the details.

A simple will, power of attorney, and advance directive act as general guidelines for who will make decisions on your behalf. That makes everything a lot simpler and less stressful on those you might leave behind.

Here’s a simple breakdown of three legal documents everyone should have:

Advance Directive. The biggest takeaway here is you need to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.

If you’re in an accident or have a sudden medical emergency, who do you trust to make those calls regarding your health? You can choose anyone… a spouse, significant other, sibling, parent, or close friend. Make sure it’s someone you trust and who knows what kind of care you would want.

Power of Attorney. Again, this can be anyone you designate. Power of attorney means they control any financial and legal issues that may arise.

Choose carefully – make sure it’s someone who understands money and makes good, solid decisions about their own spending.

Simple Will. If you don’t have a legal will, your assets aren’t safe after you die. Your family may only get a portion, according to state law. If you have more than one heir, it can lead to fights and a whole lot of headaches. And if you want to leave anything to a person you’re not related to (like a close friend or significant other), they won’t get anything without a legal document.

As you experience life changes, like having children or buying a house, for instance, you can adjust these documents as needed.

How to Find a Lawyer

If you’d like to find a lawyer and have a conversation for guidance, look for a family-law practice. Word of mouth is always a great way to find them. Ask your family members and friends who they trust with their wills.

And if an in-person lawyer isn’t your style, you can create the documents you need online (cheaply) with sites like LegalZoom, Nolo, and Rocket Lawyer.

Here are a few things to note: Make sure the documents adhere to your state’s specific laws. Keep a signed copy in a safe place and let your family know where it is. And you may need to get it notarized to be official. (You can typically find a notary at your local bank.)

Most important, before you put it on paper, talk with the person you want to choose to represent you. Ask if they’d be willing to act in that capacity for you and explain to them what you’d want in the event of something unexpected happening.

The sooner you stop putting off getting these documents done, the more peace of mind you’ll have. So stop procrastinating and get to work.

What We’re Reading…

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Amanda Cuocci and Dr. David Eifrig
Baltimore, Maryland
January 30, 2017