- Posted by Peter Gordon
- On January 30, 2023
My name is Peter Gordon, and I’m the President of New York Financial Organizers. We’re daily money managers, and we help people pay their bills, file insurance claims, and handle the non-investment side of personal finance. There are three critical legal documents everyone should know. What are these three items?
- Power of Attorney
- Health Care Proxy
- Living Will
Power of Attorney:
A power of attorney gives the agent – also known as the “attorney in fact” – the authority to act on behalf of the principal. The agent may be given broad or limited authority to make decisions about the principal’s property, finances, investments, or medical care. Having a POA is critical. If a person loses the capability to make financial decisions, they need an agent they can trust to make those decisions for them. This person must know the principal’s desires and be able to work with their family and friends. It’s important to have an agent know what your financial situation is.
Health Care Proxy:
A healthcare proxy is a document that names someone you trust as your proxy. This person can express your healthcare wishes for you if you’re unable to speak for yourself. If you’re hospitalized and incapacitated, the doctors and staff need to have someone to communicate with who knows the care you would want. If you are confused or can’t speak, you have to have that health care proxy to help you.
A living will is a statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express their informed consent. This is different from a health care proxy, as it’s dealing with end-of-life procedures. Would you want to have a feeding tube, or to be intubated? Would you want to be resuscitated if you had a heart attack? Many elderly people do not want to be resuscitated at any cost, and they would choose to pass. A Living Will provides this critical information.
This was a very cursory review of three important legal documents. The point is to demonstrate that these are three critical documents you should have at any age, but certainly when you are in your 70s or 80s.