Why You May Need a Will or Advance Directives

How to Make Sure Your Life Does Not
Become a Fractured Fairy Tale

This article uses fables to help explain why a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Powers of Attorney are important

Jack and Jill
(Why you need a Power of Attorney)

Jack and Jill owned a house together and lived as a couple for many years but they were not married. One day they went up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. What happened next? Jill wasn’t injured but Jack was rushed to the hospital. Jack was in a coma.

Jill went to visit Jack every day but Jack’s family didn’t let her see him. Jill became very lonely and missed Jack a lot. Why was Jack’s family able to keep Jill from visiting Jack? Jack and Jill considered themselves a couple but Georgia law didn’t recognize their relationship because they weren’t married. Thus, Jill had no legal right to see Jack.

Jack’s family told the doctor to treat Jack with chemical-based drugs. Jill knew Jack wouldn’t want to take chemical-based drugs. Why was Jack’s family able to give him treatment he wouldn’t want? Because Georgia law gave Jack’s family the power to make health care decisions for him when he couldn’t make his own decisions.

Jack started to get disability checks from work, but Jill wasn’t able to cash the checks. She couldn’t pay the mortgage and other bills because she didn’t have enough money.

How could Jack and Jill make sure these bad things don’t happen again? Jack and Jill could each sign a Durable Medical Power of Attorney for Healthcare . This document allows you to name someone you trust, such as a spouse or other family member, partner, or friend, to make health care decisions for you in case you can’t make the decisions yourself. This person is called your Agent . A Durable Medical Power of Attorney also gives your agent the right to visit you and to decide what to do with your body after you die.

Jack and Jill could also sign a Financial Power of Attorney . This document names an agent to handle your finances. With a Financial Power of Attorney, Jill could handle Jack’s finances and pay their bills. Your agent must be someone you trust. In some cases agents have abused their power and emptied bank accounts, sold houses, and taken out loans. In most cases the benefits are greater than the risks, but an agent’s abuse of a Financial Power of Attorney can cause you problems.