The following documents can prevent unexpected problems:
Power of Attorney
Mom has a sudden stroke and is paralyzed and needs to be moved to an assisted living. Children have no power to sell Moms house without a Power of Attorney.
Dad, a widower, is in a car accident and is hospitalized. No one has the ability to access Dads IRAs, bank accounts, or investment accounts in order to pay property taxes, mortgage payments, utility bills or other debts. A Power of Attorney could enable someone to sell his house or pay these bills on a temporary basis until Dad recovers.
Health Care Proxy
The present law (HIPAA) forbids a hospital and/or a physician to provide medical information to a spouse without written authority or verbal authority from the ill spouse as Dad has a right of privacy under the law. If Dad is taken unconscious into the hospital, Mom will be unable to direct his care or to choose what physician should perform the surgery or even select what treatment or medications Dad should receive. A Health Care Proxy would enable Mom to direct Dads care.
Without a Health Care Proxy the children are helpless and have no ability to manage your care.
Advance Medical Directive - Living Will
Children often fight over whether to keep Mom or Dad on life support. These arguments sometimes become so fierce that the siblings never talk to one another again after the death of the parent.
It is a terrible burden to place on a spouse or a child to make them decide whether or not to terminate a loved ones life. The Living Will prevents family arguments as you make the decision as to how you want to be treated prior to death.
Last Will and Testament
Directs your wishes and can reduce the expense of a surety bond and the expenses associated with the Administration of an Estate.
The State of New Jersey will direct who receives your assets if you fail to have a valid Will.