This week’s blog is all about the importance of being prepared for the unthinkable. The preparation requires having three simple legal documents:

  • Medical power of attorney.
  • Durable power of attorney.
  • Directive on who should care for and be guardian of minor children if both parents are unable to.

Consider this scenario:

  • Single mom whose husband had died a few years earlier.
  • Two minor children still at home.
  • Mom is in a serious car accident.
  • Mom is hospitalized for extended period of time with severe injuries, including brain injury.
  • Mom is expected to recover, eventually, but it will be a long road.


  • Who makes the medical decisions for the mother’s care?
  • Who do the minor children live with?
  • Who pays the bills?
  • Who is the guardian for the minor children and, possibly, the mother?

If the mom had the three legal documents — medical power of attorney, durable power of attorney, and directive for the care of and the guardian for her children — the mom will have decided ahead of time the answers to the questions. Then when the unthinkable happens, everyone knows who is to take care of each area of concern.

In this case, unfortunately, the mother did not have any of the legal documents. Her father and her deceased husband’s mother had to go to court to become guardians of not only the minor children, but the mother. This was an extra burden for this family who was already overwhelmed with the trauma from the accident.

The moral of the story is to take the time and spend the money to have the three legal documents prepared. In the long run, it will be much cheaper, both financially and emotionally, for your family. They will thank you for it!

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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