Today, more than ever, it is important that everyone over the age of 18 has the necessary documents and estate planning so their affairs may be conducted by another in case of an emergency. With a plethora of privacy laws, protections and other roadblocks designed to keep information secret, many institutions and entities will not allow someone to conduct transactions on behalf of another without Power of Attorney or other necessary documentation. Therefore, everyone should have this essential planning in place as soon as possible.
Criminal defense attorneys should especially counsel their clients to put these basic steps in place when their clients are facing incarceration. By having a General Durable Power of Attorney in place prior to any incarceration, a client can designate a parent or other individual who can manage their affairs (house, bills, vehicles, etc.) and make necessary payments on their behalf while they are incapable of performing these tasks for themselves. Such planning will prevent a client's interests from being neglected while incarcerated and will allow the designated agent from incurring unnecessary obstacles along the way, thereby avoiding stress and complications.
In addition to criminal clients, everyone over the age of 18 should have basic estate documents in place, including a General Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directive and a will. By planning ahead, individuals can make sure their wishes are followed in the event that they cannot speak for themselves. Emergency situations are stressful enough without the added issues of trying to determine what the individual would have wanted or figuring out how to keep their life afloat while they are unable to care for themselves. By having these basic items in place early on, loved ones will not have to worry about how to pay bills, make transactions or know how their family member would want their medical care handled.
As you can see, these basic documents are important for everyone, regardless of age or status in life. Whether you are a CEO or just entering college, by planning ahead, you can guarantee that your wishes will be followed and that your affairs will be able to be handled in the event of any emergency. These items are not just for the elderly or wealthy, everyone needs to make sure that they have a plan in place in the event of incapacitation or emergency.