The Cycles of Life Part 5
Posted on: 2016 08 16
The next stage of early planning involves Important Documents-yes, the legal paperwork otherwise known as estate planning. It is understandable why we put off these conversations-they may feel more intrusive to your loved ones because they involve money and their belongings. In addition, they will have to imagine the end of their life, another bummer of a conversation. Unfortunately, they must come to terms with it. Explain that this process gives them control; they will be in control over their assets and property, in control of their health care by expressing their goals and wishes - especially regarding their quality of life and ultimately in their passing. Fortunately, there are many resources to assist you in having these conversations and helping them come to terms with the future. The Lawyer Stuff Please seek appropriate legal advice as I am not a lawyer and laws vary from state to state. The most basic legal documents needed are a will, a durable power of attorney (POA) and a durable power of attorney for health care. The will deals with the distribution of one’s estate (property). Without a will, the state can select heirs and divide property; this can be costly and take a long time. The durable power of attorney is legal documentation that transfers decision-making authority to a designated person and continues that authority in the event of incapacity. The POA for health care gives another person legal authority to make medical decisions in the event of incapacity. This may include an authorization for release of protected health information under HIPAA. Other legal forms and documents may be advisable or necessary. All legal documentation must be prepared while your loved one is still competent. Estate planning documents should be kept in a safe and accessible location as well as distributed among family members and other key people as needed. Again, please seek professional legal advice. This is a comprehensive estate planning tip sheet from the Family Caregiver Alliance website. It contains a lot of information but you (hopefully) have the luxury of time. I think it is a good idea to use a lawyer who specializes in elder law; you can search for one who is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Some may offer free seminars, a good introduction into the intimidating world of estate planning for you and your loved ones. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about HIPAA. The lawyer stuff dovetails nicely with the health care paperwork as it is all about planning and really thinking about the future. Yes, it is a pain to go through the process but it truly is time (and money) well spent. It is a very important investment so your loved one remains in control of their life and I believe they will be grateful that you made them persevere.