Expect the Unexpected: Be Prepared Legally, Financially and Medically

legalWithout even a moment’s notice, you could become ill or injured and unable to take care of your own affairs. That’s why it’s so important to have all your legal, financial and medical ducks in a row—and someone ready to take care of them as soon as you can’t.

Name someone. For someone to have the authority to handle medical, legal and financial responsibilities in your stead, you must have a legal document called a power of attorney (POA) drawn up before you can turn over the reins. Even if you’re married, you need to be sure accounts and property are either in both of your names or you’ve granted your spouse power of attorney over these assets and decisions.

Tell them all the important stuff. When you’re the one who handles the bills, taxes and whatnot, often even your spouse won’t know the first thing about it all—from the name of your financial advisor, accountant and attorney to account numbers and where financial records and legal documents are kept (don’t forget to give them keys and combinations). Sit your spouse down (or the person to whom you’ve given power of attorney) and fill them in on all the details before it’s too late.

Show them the money. Make sure the person calling the shots for you is aware of your income and its various sources, including pensions, investments, disability, alimony and Social Security.

Don’t forget insurance. After you are discharged from the hospital or rehab facility, you may not be able to return home. Because Medicare generally won’t cover long-term care, let your spouse, friend or family member who is in charge know about any insurance you have that may cover some or all of the costs.

Specify your wishes clearly. A living will is a legal document that describes your preferences for medical care, particularly care that will prolong your life, when you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself. Make sure you have a living will, and if you don’t pass along any other information, be sure that the person in charge of your affairs has access to this important directive.


Share specific preparations you’ve made.