Essential Planning Documents

Four Easy Things You Should Do Before You Die

Estate law is a catch-all term describing legal issues that arise as people put their affairs in order before death, as well as those that must be addressed following death. Because we don’t like to think about death, many people put off these tasks until it is too late, placing a substantial burden on those they love.

At The Law Office of Dawn R. Underhill, we have identified four tasks that will lighten the load of those who follow you. None of these tasks are complicated, difficult or expensive to create. But all four of them, taken together, will make life easier for family members and other beneficiaries.

First And Most Important, A Will

Don’t put off creating a legal will that clearly designates your intentions regarding your life assets. Without this roadmap to your intentions, your estate will be divided by the state of Illinois according to rules that have nothing to do with you or your loved ones. Sit down with Dawn Underhill to make your intentions crystal clear. Our lawyer will draft a document that leaves no uncertainty to your survivors. And they will love you for doing it.

Second, An Advance Health Care Directive

This is a specific form that lists your health care preferences to be used only at a time when you cannot communicate your wishes. It puts your family, doctors and hospitals on notice as to the types of treatments/tests/care you would or would not want. It also lists those empowered to make health care decisions on your behalf, should you not be able to express your desires. Everyone over the age of 18 should have this form completed. The office of the Attorney General of California has excellent information on this topic including a sample form.

Third, A Financial Power Of Attorney

If you got sick today, and no longer had the capacity or the consciousness to make intelligent decisions about your money, who would make decisions for you? Who would pay your bills and manage your money? This simple document (the name is confusing because it has nothing to do with attorneys) designates a trusted individual (a friend or relative) to do this for you. This is very important because it keeps the wrong people from swooping in and taking charge of your affairs.

While you’re at it, you might also consider a health care power of attorney, to make medical decisions on your behalf. Both powers can be combined in one trusted individual.

Fourth, A HIPAA Release Form

HIPAA is the law that protects your medical information from falling into the wrong hands. But this protection becomes an obstacle to loved ones when health insurance issues arise and no one is allowed access to your health care information. This simple form unlocks your information so your designated person (or persons) can help you. This release is especially valuable in same-sex couples, where your partner may be denied access to your records.

Call Dawn R. Underhill Today For Help

Call Joliet estate planning attorney Dawn Underhill today at 815-290-0392, toll free 877-LAW-DAWN (877-529-3296).

Free Consultations

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Office Location

The Law Office of Dawn R. Underhill

63 W. Jefferson Street
Suite 101
Joliet, IL 60432



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