There are 3 pieces of paper, that everyone over the age of majority should have in place.
The average person does not even think of these until they are in their fifties, sixties or seventies sometimes and even then, they are slack at getting these done.
What are these all important and often ignored papers?
- A will (done by a lawyer)
- A power of attorney for illness
- A power of attorney for property
Now why in heavens name would these three pieces of paper be so important?
Let me tell you.
About 10 years ago, my brother (the only one I had) married a lady who had already been divorced twice. I suggested that he live with her, instead of getting married, but she had other plans.
I only met the woman once, before the wedding, but didn’t like the gut feelings I was getting around her.
My brother was 57, had never been married in his life, had no children of his own. He owned his own home outright and had for several years. He was doing alright and was thinking of early retirement, when this lady appeared. I encouraged my brother to make a prenuptial agreement. He was angry, but, thank God he listened to me, and did that.
His marriage lasted all of 18 months. After that she took off, told my brother that she had had enough and never, ever to get in touch with her again.
Life went on. My brother was so angry that he started divorce proceedings and saw a lawyer to have a new will drawn up.
Anyways, let’s fast forward to early April 2012, my brother was a fitness buff. He was at the gym when he had a massive heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital where they did emergency surgery on his heart, but he never recovered consciousness.
The whole time he was in hospital, my mother and I were the ones looking after his needs. If the doctors had questions, they would ask me. My husband was having a conniption. Not because of my brother, but because, he wasn’t sure that we should be making these decisions on his behalf.
Shouldn’t his ex-wife be making these decisions. Where was his ex? Would she come back and claim that we didn’t do the right thing?
I told my husband not to worry, because I had that conversation with my brother sometime earlier, and knew that I was his Power of Attorney for Critical Care (I just didn’t know where the paperwork was). Plus as far as I knew, he was divorced, and she would no longer have any say.
My brother died four days later, his body just shut itself down one organ at a time. When they turned off the respirator, he was no longer breathing at all. Death came quite suddenly.
Now, I was left with all his belongings and trying to find where he kept his Will. I had no idea where to start.
It took me a month of going through all of his belongings before I came across the file cabinet in his basement, hidden behind a “fake” wall. In the last folder of the bottom drawer was his will.
He made me his power of attorney for personal care, power of attorney for his possessions (should he become incapable of taking care of things himself) and he made me the executor of his will.
Without these three pieces of paper in hand, my life, even though it wasn’t easy after losing him, would have been even harder. His will was clear and everything he had belonged to my mother.
Without the will in place, things would have looked much different. His ex-wife could have come in and taken half of whatever he owned, by law. Now this may be different where you live and that is one very important reason to have a will made by an attorney. They know the laws.
Your attorney will not recommend you to leave something to someone in a way that is unlawful, that’s part of what you pay his legal bills for. without a will though, there can be a lot of fighting among relatives that you didn’t even know existed.
If you love your family, and I’m sure you do, these three pieces of paper are very important and it’s important that someone knows where those pieces of paper are!
Have this conversation with your family, or someone you trust! One day we will all die, let’s make it easier for our loved ones to carry on, without the grief of having to search for your Last Will and Testament.