You know, right now, some of us have a lot of time on our hands, and we're using that time for various activities.
It might be watching movies and binging on seasons, playing video games, doing a lot of social media posting, or we might be working on our business and doing video conference with our families.
But there's one thing that we really should be doing if we haven't already: and that's take care of our own business as notaries!
We are out there taking care of everybody else's business - their important documents. But what about our own?
So there are four important documents that every person should have. These four include a Durable Power of Attorney Financial and Advanced Healthcare Directive, a Last Will and Testament, and if you have real estate think about a Living Trust.
So let's start with what if you get ill, what if you're incapacitated in any way and you need help? You know what? You need a document that will let somebody else talk to those credit card issuers. Talk to the manager for your apartment or the lease on your apartment. You would also need somebody to be able to talk to the utility companies. You need somebody to pay your bills! A Durable Power of Attorney Financial, and by the way, just because they're called attorney, in fact, it doesn't mean they have to be an attorney. It's someone you trust who will represent you and always act in your best interest.
And as a matter of fact, speaking of getting ill, which is a real threat to us right now, what about an Advanced Healthcare Directive? This is somebody who can participate in your doctor's appointments and treatment plans, see medical records, talk to your doctor's office, be a part of decision making if you are not able to speak for yourself. So that is really important.
Then what if the worst happens? Have you made provision for what happens with all your stuff, all your assets? How does anybody know what you intended? So a Last Will and Testament will designate a personal representative or executor status. And that's the person who would take care of making sure your wishes are honored.
But how do they know you have any wishes? You need to document them! And that's what that document does. You can download them from a website, a legal website like LegalZoom, LegalShield, or RocketLawyer - or any one of those places. You can get one from a paralegal, you get one from an attorney. Did you know you can even hand write your own! If you're stuck at home and you can't go anywhere, did you know you can hand write your own will? It's called a Holographic will - sign every page of it. And at least you'll have something in writing. Because if you don't, then the state will make all the decisions for you and they'll decide who gets what. And you know, that may not be how you want things handled.
At least leaving directions for somebody that you would leave behind is important. And if you have to do a handwritten will or you're just going to download a simple one from a website, you can always meet with an attorney later and do a more formal one say if you were getting a Revocable Living Trust and that has what's called a Pour-over Will that works together with it. So, you know, not everybody needs a trust. If you have real estate, that's probably going to be a reason.
If you have financial assets like your brokerage accounts and bank account and savings account and CD accounts and all of those - our tax qualified accounts like pension and 401ks, those have beneficiaries. They don't belong in a trust. So don't worry about those. Those are fine the way they are. But who is going to take care of depositing money in the account, like an insurance check? Who's going to take care of paying any bills of the estate? Who's going to make sure that if you wanted something to go to your daughter, to your niece, to your nephew, to your best friend, that that's going to happen? Those directions are going to come either in the form of the trust documents and/or the Pour-over Will. So this allows you to speak for you when you cannot.
I'm talking to you about this today because I personally made the move five years ago to have a Durable Power of Attorney. I also to have an Advanced Healthcare Directive for myself, for my spouse, and for each one of my children when they turned 18. I had them drawn up for them as well because I couldn't just speak for them once they were no longer a minor.
I want you to know that I'm not an attorney. I can't give you legal advice. I can't prepare anybody's documents, but I can share what I have found out. And what I have found out is I feel less stress! I feel more comfortable knowing that if something should happen to me and it's just I'm ill and I need help either with a healthcare matters or with financial matters, there are documents in place so that my spouse can easily pick up the ball and keep going. I feel good knowing that I've protected my kids by making sure they have them because they're both older than 18. And I want you to know that a Will does not have to be notarized. It usually is just witnessed by two people. But if it does have to be notarized, like a Power of Attorney, it has to be notarized, don't let that be your excuse. There are notaries out there who are following the CDC guidelines who would be willing to come to your home and take care of that for you.
It's not difficult for us to take care of a document for a particular signer. If you're in a state where remote notarization is available to you, there's another way in which you can get it done. Although, I will tell you, that remote notarization almost always excludes wills. The other documents are fine, but usually you cannot do a will through remote notarization.
Be sure that you choose a state - if you're going to get remote notarization done and you're not in that state - say you're in California where we cannot do it, make sure you've chosen a state that allows the notary to notarize for a person that's not in their state at the time of notarization. Not all of them allow that - some require the signer to be in the same state. So make sure you do your research first, but most importantly, please take care of your own business. Take care of your own documents. It is so important and it can reduce your stress at this really stressful time.
So I hope this has been helpful to you. Until next time, please be safe.