Legal documents are vital to our lives, and when we need them, we may need them immediately. That’s why it’s important to know the top five legal documents everyone must have available, particularly when they’re needed to make a personal injury claim.
#1 Power of Attorney
A “power of attorney” or POA is a legal document that allows another person to act in your name or make legally binding decisions on your behalf.
Different POAs can grant different types or scopes of authority. A “general power of attorney” grants your agent broad authority to act in many different ways, while a “limited power of attorney” grants only certain, specific powers. For instance, a medical power of attorney allows a trusted loved one to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to do so, while a financial power of attorney allows your agent to control your money or make investment decisions for you.
Kyle Schnitzer, Senior Briefing Attorney for Jim Adler & Associates’ Houston, Channelview and Dallas offices, notes that one type of POA guaranteed to be involved in your personal injury case is your contract with your lawyer. “When you choose to hire a lawyer for your personal injury case, you sign a legal power of attorney that allows your lawyer to make strategic legal decisions about the negotiation and litigation of your personal injury claim,” he says. “Your lawyer files your lawsuit in your name and acts as your agent before the court during the litigation process.”
Don’t worry, though. Your case is still your case, and your lawyer ultimately works for you. “Jim Adler’s power of attorney does not grant the law firm the power to settle your case without your consent,” Schnitzer adds. “Your lawyer can advise you about what a reasonable settlement may be, but Jim Adler’s POA keeps the final decision in your hands.”
A will is designed by you to direct how your assets will be disbursed after your death. “Wills can be very simple,” Schnitzer says. “And though they can be scary to think about, it will be a blessing to your loved ones to have direction about your wishes after you pass.”
For persons who do not have a will, Texas law provides default rules to control who gets your property, regardless of whether you agree with the default rules.
“Many of our clients do not have a will,” Schnitzer says. “That can result in their loved ones facing delays when it comes time to receive a settlement for their personal injury or wrongful death claims.”
#3 Car Title
A car title indicates that you are the owner of a vehicle and are the person entitled to recover property damages to the vehicle.
#4 Driver’s License and Proof of Insurance
Your driver’s license and proof of insurance both show that you have a legal right to drive a vehicle on Texas roads. Keep in mind that you must have your driver’s license and your proof of insurance with you at all times when you drive. Failure to do so can result in a penalty.
#5 Birth Certificate
For some legal procedures, you may need to provide proof of your origins by means of a birth certificate.
When it comes to these and other important legal documents, you should keep them in a safe place and, when possible, have copies available.
According to Hope Coalition America
, other legal documents which you should try to keep handy include:Income tax returnsMarriage licenseDivorce papersAdoption papersSocial Security cardPassportVehicle registration papersMortgage or real estate deeds of trustFinancial account statements (bank, credit union, retirement, investment)Sources of income/assets (recent pay stubs, government benefits, alimony, child support)Financial obligations (mortgage statement, lease, utility bills, student loans)Medical records (health insurance, living will)Military ID and discharge
We hope we’ve helped you to pinpoint and organize your important legal documents. These can be vital to have readily available, especially if you face a personal injury and need our law firm’s assistance. Call us at 1-800-505-1414
for a FREE case review today.