A friend recently told me that the best organizational advice she has ever received was the phrase, “Only touch it once.” While it sounds a little vague—and even, let’s be honest, a little prudish—the idea behind this advice is both powerful and difficult to follow.
How easy is it to approach a task with the mindset that says, “I’ll come back to this later,” and then never actually do it? Don’t give into the temptation of believing you’ll give it a second look. When you open an email, respond right away, and then take it immediately off your list of to-dos. Sounds pretty simple, but it also means resisting the urge to begin a task when you don’t have the time to deal with it fully. It’s all about budgeting your time and keeping your list short. For me, it’s much easier said than done.
Here’s a task you can truly accomplish in one go, and if you haven’t done it yet, you need to do it. Right now. You need to have a Financial Power of Attorney.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t live my life thinking I’m going to become incapacitated at any minute, and chances are, I’m probably not, *still knocks on wood anyway* but the fact is that a Financial POA is one of the easiest documents you can deal with today that would lighten the load on the people you love if something happened to you.
Here’s what happens if you have not nominated an agent for your finances: an emergency happens, and someone needs to manage your finances while you are incapacitated. Having a will is a great idea, but wills are only enforceable with a death certificate. Still, insurance paperwork, paying bills, and other financial responsibilities pile up quickly. So, the decision of agent goes to a judge—which means your family is paying court fees and taking a significantly longer amount of time, both of which are avoidable. Not to mention that a judge, who has never met you or anyone you know, gets to appoint your agent, and you don’t have any control.
Because most states have developed their own specific forms, you can download a form online, and there are more and more estate planning services offered through the internet, like Willing and LegalZoom. While they are not a substitute for an attorney’s advice, there are benefits to having access from anywhere. Because the form is specific by state, this also means that if you’ve moved recently, you need to do update to your new state’s form.
Name your choices for agent, and include their contact information. Print the form, sign it, and have it notarized. Then, put the original in an envelope inside the freezer, where it would be safe from fire damage.
Finally, make sure to tell your agent about their role and the location of the document. That way, in an emergency, they’re prepared. Then, pat yourself on the back because you’ve just done something powerful for the people you love.