Give the gift of less worry

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Donna Bridges
  • Legal Office
It's probably the most meaningful gift you can give your family. This is not a typical gift in a box with a pretty little bow and a name tag. This is a gift that will last well beyond the wrapping paper and the holidays. It's the gift of preparedness.

Preparing for emergencies and life changing events now will allow your family to focus on other important life worries.

Preparing a medical power of attorney, living will and last will and testament is an important preparation to make. In addition, depending on your situation you may want to consider executing a power of attorney to give someone authority to handle your affairs when you are unable to handle them yourself. Essentially what this means is you are giving another person the authority to request or refuse treatment for you.

A living will is a written document that specifies what types of medical treatment you desire in the event of a terminal, incurable medical condition. Most commonly, the living will contains a statement that if you suffer an incurable, irreversible illness, disease or condition and your physician determines that your condition is terminal; you direct that life-sustaining measures that serve only to prolong dying be withheld or discontinued. You can also make more specific wishes regarding pain relief, hydration and life support.

A last will and testament is a legal document in which you name another person to manage your estate and provide for the transfer of your property after your death. Where minor children are involved, it may also be advisable to name a guardian who will take care of your children upon your death.

A power of attorney is a written instrument that allows you to authorize another person to conduct certain business on your behalf. There are two types of powers of attorney, general and special. The general power of attorney gives very broad authorities act on your behalf. The special power of attorney is normally limited to one or two specific matters, such as child care or sale of specific property.

In addition to preparing the documents I've described, there are other ways you can prepare yourself and your family for unforeseen emergencies. Accumulate all of your important documents and keep them together in a safe place such as a fire-proof box or safe in your home. Make a list of important telephone numbers, addresses and account numbers for your banking institutions, insurance companies, doctors, veterinarian and creditors.

Keep the list with your important documents and also save the list electronically in an email account or other online safe storage location. Make sure your spouse or another person know where you are storing all of this important paperwork.

The legal office in building 838 here can provide all of the documents mentioned above for reservists assigned to the 94th Airlift Wing. We provide legal assistance on Saturdays of the Unit Training Assembly between 1 to 3:30 p.m. on a walk-in, first- come, first- served basis. Powers of attorney can be prepared on the UTA between 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and also Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.