Do You Have the Right Emergency Documents?

Find out what emergency documents you must have for protection.

Laura Adams, MBA
5-minute read
Episode #195

Since this week is Halloween, I thought I’d tackle the grisly topic of death and disaster. It’s a weird issue because you don’t have any need for money after you die (at least I don’t think you do), so you may not really care what happens to your earthly assets and liabilities after you’re gone. But if you want to be prepared for a critical medical emergency that leaves you incapacitated or be remembered for making your death as easy as possible for those you leave behind, this article is for you. Next week, I’ll continue this spooky topic and tell you what happens to your debt when you die.

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What Emergency Documents Should You Have?

There are a few documents that everyone should have to make sure that you’re as prepared as possible for the most terrible “what ifs” of life and death, like:

  • What if you’re in an accident and need life-support to stay alive?

  • What if you’re mentally unable to make health care decisions for yourself?

  • What if you die and no one knows your last wishes?

As awful as it is to think about these situations, it can be even more difficult for your family or friends if they don’t know what you’d want them to do. So it’s really important to make your wishes clearly known in the event that you can’t make them for yourself. Here are five legal documents that everyone should have:

Document 1: Power of Attorney (POA)

The purpose of a Power of Attorney is to give someone you trust, called an agent, the ability to make decisions and transactions for you while you’re alive. You can always change it or even appoint more than one agent if you want to. There are different kinds of POAs, but a Durable Power of Attorney is the most common type. It can be used any time you’re not capable of doing routine things, like paying your bills, selling real estate, signing contracts, making insurance claims, filing taxes, or making financial decisions for yourself. That’s how the financial end of your life can continue to run smoothly if you become incapacitated or are just unavailable when something important needs to be done.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.