Necessary Documents

With my mother’s recent hospital stay, I’ve been digging into what legal documents you should have in place just because.  This is an uncomfortable topic because it involves conversations about what happens if you are incapacitated or dead.

First I’m not a lawyer so this isn’t legal advice.  This is me telling you – this is what I’ve learned.

The one most people know about is the will.  You should have your will updated regularly.  This helps to ensure that your stuff gets distributed the way you want it to.  Now anyone can contest a will but hopefully your heirs will respect your wishes.

There are two power of attorney documents you should consider having as well.  The first is for health care.  It is simply who will make decisions about your health care if you can’t.  The other one is for your finances.  This is the person you want taking care of your money when you’re incapacitated.

A living will sounds like a regular will but it isn’t.  It is a document that states what happens if you are in a vegetative state.  Again this is so your wishes are followed when you can’t say what your wishes are.

For Wisconsin there is also a document about the disposition of your body.  Obviously, you’re dead so this is telling people what you want to happen to your body once you’re gone.  

Like most other people I am guilty of not having these in place.  I have a will but it is thirty years old, two of my daughters weren’t even born when Ken and I had them made up.  The other documents don’t exist yet.

I will be rectifying this.  I’m going to sit down with Ken and we are going to create these documents.  It won’t be hard because all I have to do is go to google and type in power of attorney wisconsin and all sorts of things come up.  Mostly though I’m looking for the ones the government gives out for free.  I get the four (not the will) from there.  The other thing I’m going to do is find our current wills and use that format to create new wills.

After we get them all done, we just need signatures, notary (I think) and witnesses.  But we won’t be done yet.  The final step is to distribute all of the documents to our daughters.  This way they know what we want and have a copy so they can be responsible and not have to make the tough decisions when they are upset because we have croaked.  At least I hope they are upset – maybe not – depends on how much we’ve annoyed them… (That’s humor – sick and demented but still humor).

It is hard to talk about this stuff for a lot of people because no one wants to talk about death and ultimate this is a conversation about death.  However, in order to make sure you have your wishes followed this is necessary.