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Have you planned for your future?

Have you Planned Your Furture?
by: Pansy Walker 

“Have you planned for your future? What is your five, ten-year plan”? 

These are questions that you may hear when you graduate high school, college or at some other significant event.  Many of us hardly know what we are doing the next week.  If you are caring for a loved one, a loved one is caring for you, or if you have children whether young or adult aged, planning for your and their future is important.  Part of that planning process should include the following key items:
  • Will
  • Power of Attorney (POA)
  • Living Will/ Medical Directive
Probably the most important step is designating a power of attorney.  According to AARP, “Power of attorney (POA) is a legal agreement between a person who needs the agreement (grantor) and a person (agent) designated to act on the grantor’s behalf and in his or her best interests. In simpler terms a Power of Attorney is a legal document to allow a person to act on your behalf.”  That person is to make decisions for you in case you are incapacitated.
This is often difficult for many families to discuss and in some cases, can cause tension about personal belongings, real estate or issues that have to do with your health.  The person or persons that you select for these decisions in your life must be someone that you trust.  Simple tasks as paying bills, receiving medical information, cancelling vacation reservations all require a POA.
POA forms can be downloaded from the Internet.  A handwritten list of the responsibilities you would like from your loved one, signed by you, is also okay.  But if you want to turn the agreement into a legal document, there are some states that require the form to be signed by witnesses and notarized.  Please check with your state’s legal requirements.
Most of us know we should have a will, but many don’t know what a will is and how it works. A will, sometimes called a “last will and testament”, is a document that states your final wishes. It is read by a county court or attorney after your death, and the court makes sure that your final wishes are carried out. 

A Living Will is a type of Advanced Directive which is a legal document that communicates your wishes about medical treatments if you are incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself.  Again, this is a process that must be discussed with your designee and that they are comfortable making those decisions on your behalf.
It is important that when you are making these decisions to check with an attorney or legal resources.  Whether the attorney is someone you have known for years, chosen from an online source, or through the county’s legal aid services, the decisions you make reflect you.  Do not leave your loved ones ill-equipped or uninformed with choices that involve your well-being.  Do not assume that your family knows how you want to leave your legacy.  Planning your future does not just mean deciding where you will take your next vacation. 
The next time someone asks, “Have you planned for your future?” You can say, “Yes, I have planned for my future.”