The Four Legal Documents that Every Adult Must Have

Posted on:  October 1st, 2015
By:  Diane Morrison

Adulthood. It’s a long-awaited and mythical state when you’re young. Some people may believe it begins on your 18th birthday, while others might think it doesn’t begin until you have children or buy a house. The outlines of that particular state – adulthood – remain rather nebulous; but whatever your definition, there are four legal documents every adult needs to have.

  1. A Will – Whatever your age, once you are legally an adult (18 years of age), you really should have a will. Even if you have no assets, it’s a good idea to have one in place and review it periodically. Check out our previous blog Do You Have a Will? Do You Even Need One? for a more in-depth explanation of why.
  2. A Durable Power of Attorney (finances) – If you should ever become mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your finances or make decisions on your own, this document designates a person who would do so for you and gives that person legal authority to act on your behalf.
  3. A Health Care Proxy – This document is also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. Similar to the like-named financial document, it names a person who you choose to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to make those decisions yourself, therefore helping to avoid conflict among family members.
  4. A Living Will – Closely related to the Health Care Proxy, a living will goes a step further by giving explicit direction. If you are mentally incapacitated or unconscious for an extended period of time, it gives specific instructions as to resuscitation, the usage of heroic measures to prolong life, and feeding and hydration so that your loved ones don’t have to guess at your wishes or make such agonizing decisions for you.

Don’t wait, now is a good time to be sure that you have these important documents in place.


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