Top 4 Legal Documents Everyone Must Have

Washington, D.C. — The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a

professional association of attorneys serving seniors, people with disabilities, and
their families, compiled a list of the most important legal documents that every
American should have:
1. Power of Attorney (POA): Grants authority to act for another person in legal
matters, executed prior to the incapacity. A properly drafted power of
attorney may preclude the need for court action, saving substantial legal
expense and invasion of privacy in the event of incapacity.
2. Health Care Proxy: Also known as a “health care surrogate” or “durable
power of attorney,” allows the patient to appoint an agent to make health
care decisions.
3. Living Will/Advance Directive: Helps clarify your health care desires to
family members and medical professionals when you are unable to
communicate them due to a serious illness or injury. Laws about these
critical documents vary from state to state.
4. Last Will and Testament: Statement of what you would like done with your
possessions upon your death.
“NAELA member attorneys are committed to representing the needs of people as
they age, people with special needs, and their families. NAELA attorneys can help
prepare these important legal documents, designed to address possible long-term
care needs, issues that arise in the event of incapacity, as well as asset distribution upon death,” said NAELA President Howard S. Krooks, CELA, CAP. “Taking the time
to plan now can help eliminate many of the challenges that people face later in life
or when confronted by an unexpected illness or accident. Preparation really can
lead to peace of mind.”