Four Personal Legal Documents Everyone in Their 40s Should Have

When you are in your 40s make sure that you have the appropriate and necessary legal documents prepared, just in case of emergency. While having these legal documents completed can sometimes be time-consuming and expensive, these documents are essential for you and your family. Many consumers put this off until it’s too late, but if you are in your 40s and don’t already have these documents in place, now’s the time to talk to a lawyer.

To find a lawyer, you may want to talk to friends and family to get a reference. When you talk to the lawyer, find out what fees you should expect to pay in advance. You and your spouse should have a private discussion prior to your meeting with the lawyer, to talk about the many decisions you’ll need to put in writing.

Last will and testament

A last will and testament explains to the courts how you want your assets divided when you pass away. If you have young children, you can also designate who you want to raise your children. 

Living will

A living will specifies what kind of medical treatments you would want (or not want) if you become incapacitated. There are general living wills you can complete, or you can choose to be very specific.

Health care proxy

A health care proxy designates someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Power of attorney

A power of attorney allows you to designate someone else to execute legal documents on your behalf, if you are unable to execute them.

If you haven’t already created these essential documents, now is the right time to do so. If money is an issue, there are some great resources you can use if you’d like to create them yourself. Once complete, commit to reviewing the documents every few years to make sure all of the information in these documents is up to date.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.