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Two simple estate-planning documents millennials should have

If you are young, single and focused on your career, estate planning is probably something you do not think about often, if ever. While you do not need a complex plan at this point in your life, you should think about the basics.

There are two simple documents everyone should have, including millennials: a durable power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive. Both activate in the event you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself.

The durable power of attorney

The durable power of attorney enables you to name someone you trust to manage financial matters on your behalf. The person you select will become your legal surrogate; he or she will handle all your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. If you recover from your injury or illness, you simply take back the authority to handle your own affairs.

The advance healthcare directive

There are actually two parts to this legal document. A living will sets out your wishes concerning your medical care if you are not able to speak for yourself. It will tell your doctors whether you want your life prolonged artificially in the event you are in a vegetative state or have a terminal illness. In the accompanying healthcare directive, you can name someone who will have legal authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Avoiding family conflict

Both the durable power of attorney and the advance healthcare directive are important documents to have. If you are critically injured in an auto accident, for example, and slide into a coma, your instructions to the medical team will be clear, and whoever you designate can step in to deposit checks, pay your bills and deal with other financial matters. Both are also simple documents that your attorney can prepare in short order. Once you have these documents, there will be no need for family arguments over what you would or would not want. You made your decisions and your instructions are clear. Together, the durable power of attorney and the advance healthcare directive represent a good start to more comprehensive estate planning that you may not need to consider for some time yet.

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