As a mobile notary, I have spent the past decade jumping on the road after receiving a frantic request from a family member because Mom has taken a spill, Dad has to go in for heart surgery, or young Joey has had an accident and will be laid up in the hospital for an indefinite period of time. Suddenly, the call for a Power of Attorney to enable loved ones to handle the patient's financial affairs has become urgent. The necessity of a Health Care Directive so that family members can manage and supervise the patient's medical care is critical. Or, worst of all, the patient may be approaching end-of-life and estate planning documents are now vital for financial and tax reasons, as well as to preserve the patient's intent if he or she were to pass away.
The concerned family reaches out to me to notarize whichever documents they've been able to procure on short notice, usually from the internet. But these matters call for careful consideration and foresight: Something that can be difficult to muster in an urgent or emotionally fraught situation. The eve of a surgery or immediately after an unfortunate diagnosis is not the optimal time to create or execute a comprehensive Living Trust and Estate Plan.
Even more important, however, is the issue of capacity. One must be in possession of his or her full mental faculties to put an Estate Plan in place and, unfortunately, there have been times when I have been unable to assist a family in need because they have put off these steps for too long.
Perhaps you know that you need to set up a Living Trust but you just haven't gotten around to it. As one of those who is on the front lines when these affairs have been delayed, I urge you to take care of your Living Trust, Will, Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive today.