The Five Documents Every Divorced Parent Must Have
- A Permission to Treat: This is a simple form that allows a person who is not a parent to get medical treatment for a child. If your child is injured and needs medical care when with someone other than a legal parent, every such person should have this form in the glovebox of their car. The urgent care may not require it, but why take that chance? E-mail me at email@example.com and I will send you a form for a starting point.
- A Durable Power of Attorney: This document gives another person authority to act on your behalf. The power of attorney may give broad powers over your business and personal financial affairs and health care, either effective immediately or only upon you becoming incapacitated. Most commonly, separate powers of attorney are signed for financial matters and healthcare. You should have a Power of Attorney for financial matters that goes into effect upon you becoming incapacitated. It is advisable that you also have a durable power of attorney over healthcare decisions so that someone else is able to make healthcare decisions for you.
- A living will. Deathbed issues are often set forth in a specific document called a living will. This is where you make your wishes known as far as issues as when a do not resuscitate “DNR” order should be given to medical personnel. A living will is intended to apply is a situation where death is imminent from a terminal condition or you are in a persistent vegetative state .This is an advance directive regarding any possibly life prolonging treatment as well as palliative care (e.g. food, water, pain medication).
- A revocable living trust. All of your assets will be titled in the name of the trust but you will control them while you are able, but if you die or become incapacitated, the trust automatically transfers that control to the person you have named as trustee. If all of your assets are in a revocable living trust, your property does not have to go through probate and you can direct that your assets be used to maintain the residence until the youngest child is a certain age and when the assets held in the trust should be distributed to children and other heirs.
- A will. This is the legal document used to name a guardian for your child. Bear in mind that the other parent will automatically become the sole guardian for your child if he or she survives you and wishes to so act. A will may also be used instead of a revocable living trust to dispose of your assets following death.
Protecting yourself, your children and your assets is serious business. Do not rely on the information in this short article to decide what to do, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Susan E. Hamra