A recent article in U.S. News lists six documents everyone should have:

  1. medical power of attorney
  2. living will
  3. HIPAA authorization
  4. financial power of attorney
  5. letter of instructions- bury vs. cremate, etc.
  6. will

In most cases, the first three documents can be combined. Many people forget about the HIPAA authorization, which can make it difficult to find out a person’s medical condition. The letter of instructions is a very good idea, but whoever is to receive and act on it should have it before the writer dies, to avoid steps being taken that are contrary to those instructions.