Wills and end-of-life papers: Everyone should have them.

When most people think of wills they think of the paper that divides up their property after they pass on. While that is true, that is not the whole of the matter, and for most people it is not even the most important thing about wills. Wills, and the documents that should go along with your will, are about protecting your loved ones from being forced to make decisions – important decisions – by guesswork. For most families, the papers protect the loved ones who should not be left to fight among themselves about “what would papa (or mama) have wanted.”

Consider a few very important questions – even if they are kind of scary questions: When do you think your family should “pull the plug” if you are ever put on life support? How long do you want to live on a ventilator? Of course there are many options, but if you don’t tell your family what you want, who will make the decision? Do you trust everyone in your family to make the decision you want them to make? Do you think your family will be able make good decisions for you without fighting among themselves?

Do you know who will make decisions about you and about your things if you are ever mentally unable to make those decisions for yourself – whether just for a while, or for longer? If you can’t decide things for yourself, and if you can’t make your preferences known, the probate court will pick someone for you. Do you want a probate judge who has never met you or your family to choose for you? Do you want your estate to pay lawyers to argue about those things?

If you are like most people and your estate will be less than two or three million dollars, one of the wisest things you can do, and one of the kindest for those you will leave behind, is to get the documents you need finished while you are still fit and able to make good decisions. That is especially true if you have children – and even more important if you have children, step-children, and grandchildren. Don’t trust the courts to make those decisions, don’t pay lawyers more than you must, and don’t let your family fight over those decisions. Make them clear and in writing.

Having a will is not just about disposing of your condo in Vail and your Ferrari. It is about protecting your family from themselves. Good documents protect you when you become unable to protect yourself. Let Dr. Flynn help you to know you have the documents you need.

The Documents you should have:

A Will not only clarifies what to do with your property, it expresses your intent regarding who will be in charge of your property and of your legal affairs – and who will not – in the event of your death.

A Medical Advisory gives your loved ones instructions about how you want the doctors and hospitals to treat you, so no one makes decisions you would not make, and your family don’t have to fight about it.

A Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA Release, allows your chosen representative to consult with doctors and the hospital so they will have the information they need to honor your intentions.

A Durable Power of Attorney makes sure that the one you trust most will make decisions for you in the event that you cannot make them, yourself.