Three Really Important Pieces of Paper That We All Need.

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?

  1.  A will (done by a lawyer)
  2.  A power of attorney for illness
  3.  A power of attorney for property


Now why in heavens name would these three pieces of paper be so important?

important documents

Last Will Dated 1878


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.


  1. Andria Perry

    I know what you mean but a will can be contested, I know because I did the accounting for , four estates. The last one went on for 19 years! It was so bad between the family that, I was the only one allowed for the last three courts, then on the very last count the judge took two family members in at a time, showed them the evidence and closed the case the next day.

    I have a power of attorney and a will, but I am thinking about doing a trust so that everything can be done without paying to have it probated.

    I shared this article on StumbleUpon

    1. Olivia Morris Post author

      I guess it all depends on where you live and the laws in that particular place. I know here in Canada, we have certain laws , but if you die without a will, all kinds of other stuff happens that can take years to settle out. It’s better to have something than nothing.

  2. Kyla Matton Osborne

    Excellent post, Olivia! This stuff really is important. And even if you can’t afford a lawyer’s will, just having the conversations with your family and writing your own (holograph) will is better than nothing. Shared widely.

    1. Andria Perry

      As long as its signed with two witnesses that are NOT in the will it is pretty much iron clad. In the USA

    2. Kyla Matton Osborne

      It varies from one jurisdiction to another, as estate law is usually a state/provincial matter and not federal. Holographic wills must be completely handwritten, so in many places in the US and Canada, there is no witness required. Proof of authenticity can come from handwriting analysis, the testimony of witnesses who were aware of the will or saw it being drawn up, or other supporting documents (such as a letter that mentions specific items that are brought up in the will.) I suppose you could even make a video recording of yourself reading the will aloud and then signing it.

      A holographic will, just like one of those form-style wills you buy at the office supply store, has to go through probate. But if it’s well documented and nobody contests it, I imagine it would be accepted in most places.

  3. Olivia Morris Post author

    So true Kyla, so many people don’t know how important it is, but as someone who has had to deal with the fall out, I know that it won’t happen with me. Having those papers in place can save a lot of heart ache even when your heart is breaking anyway. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gil Camporazo

    This is a legal matter. I know a little about it. Anyway, this is a good preparation for those who a property to will for their posterity. I may not be worrying about this for I am a mere government employee with a property of my own. I just live from my salary I receive every month. The only will or inheritance I could leave to my children is my name and honor as their father and breadwinner of the family.

  5. Olivia Morris Post author

    You are so right Eva…..people don’t realize how much they leave undone without those three pieces of paper. Letting your family know where they are helps too…..

  6. Pat Z Anthony

    You are right-everyone should have such papers in order. Even if changes have to be made over the years, it just makes good sense to have things ready in case of an emergency.

  7. Olivia Morris Post author

    Pat the bottom line is, if you have family and property, you should have this in place. You just never know. We all expect that we will have another tomorrow, but quite often that is not the case.. If those papers are in order, there is one less thing to think about. You can gt on with living!

  8. Treathyl FOX

    Yes, yes and yes. Those 3 papers are extremely important. But if I try to say that to my husband, he’ll just reply: “I trust you to take care of the necessaries. I’ll be gone. I won’t care.” I gave up on the conversation with him.

    Of a truth, my father died without those papers and my mother did take care of things. My mother died without those papers and we, her siblings, took care of things. But my mom and dad didn’t own anything!

    If you have valuables, property, etc., you better put something in place. Otherwise, after your departure, bloodletting will begin! Families are horrible and cruel when it comes to this kind of stuff! My friend told me what happened in her family. It was not pretty. Mind you! Her grandfather left a will! I can only imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t left that piece of paper. That piece of paper kept her daddy alive. He was granted authority to handle everything by his father. Everything! Guess he was the only one of his kids the grandpa trusted. The way the other ones carried on after he died, I can see why he trusted him. They were awful!

  9. Jo Pin

    A very timely post for me. My Mom died 3 months ago and my siblings and I were in such a situation what to do with the Land Titles now in my possession ( not in my name ) I mean I have kept them for years as my Dad and Mom entrusted them to me. Thanks for some insights.

  10. Olivia Morris Post author

    Dear Jo, first let me offer my condolences, it’s not easy loosing someone you love.

    I don’t know what the laws are in your area, but I would seek the advice of a family lawyer.

    I wish you lots of luck and hopefully no fighting sibs….

  11. Olivia Morris Post author

    Linda Jenkins, they sure do need updating. Things change all the time. You bought a new car, a new boat, a cottage, who knows…..for little things you don’t change your will, but there are bigger things that will change how that will should be divided or given….Every 5 years or so, dig it out, look it over and then put it away again and get on with living.

  12. Olivia Morris Post author

    Treathyl you know what they say, Where there’s a will there will be feuding relatives. A will doesn’t make it impossible to cheat your other family out of their inheritance, but it certainly makes it a little easier. In Canada, if you die without a will, they will appoint someone to divide up the estate, and charge you a nice penny to do so. Then that one special piece of jewelry or property that should have gone to you is now going to someone else…..

    It’s sad when family treasures go to someone who doesn’t care about them…

  13. Olivia Morris Post author

    Our days are all numbered, we just don’t know the date when our “Best Before” will be up. I always joke with my mother (who is 85) that we all have an invisible bar code on us somewhere, the one our Maker gave us when we were fashioned. It’s invisible to us, but He knows when he will call us home. We have to be ready to meet Him at any given day and then our eternity will begin.

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