Powers of Attorney, Health Care & Emergency Documents
You should take a comprehensive approach to the estate planning process. Yes, you have to make sure that your loved ones will receive their inheritances in a timely and efficient manner.
At the same time, you should also address eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life.
Incapacity Is Common Among Elders
No one is anxious to think about this subject, but it is important to take a pragmatic approach to aging. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that over 30 percent of people that are 85 years of age and older have contracted the disease.
Your life expectancy is in this range if you are fortunate enough to celebrate your 67th birthday, so everyone should take this possibility seriously. Plus, Alzheimer’s is widespread, but it is not the only cause of dementia.
In addition to cognitive impairment, some people that are grappling with serious physical illnesses become unable to handle their own affairs, so this is another consideration.
If you take no steps in advance to assert your own choices, interested parties can petition the state to appoint a conservator to act on your behalf. The matter would be in the hands of the government, and family members may have disagreements about the right way to proceed.
There is also the simple fact that a court proceeding can be time-consuming, and there is a disconcerting loss of privacy.
Durable Powers of Attorney
You can prevent a conservatorship and make your own choices if you execute the right incapacity planning documents. A durable power of attorney is a device that can be used to name someone to make decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
The “durable” designation is significant because a power of attorney that is not durable would no longer be in effect if you become incapacitated. There is also a spring durable power of attorney that will only go into effect if you lose your ability to make sound decisions.
A durable power of attorney for property can be executed to name an agent that will manage your financial affairs. You can add a durable power of attorney for health care to account for medical decision-making.
If you want to use the same person to make both types of decisions on your behalf, you can do so, but this is not required.
When you work with an attorney from our firm to develop your estate plan, you may decide to establish a living trust. You would act as the trustee while you are alive and well if you have this type of trust, so you would maintain control of the assets.
In the trust declaration, you can name a disability trustee to administer the trust if you become incapacitated at some point in time. You can give this authority to the successor trustee that will act as the administrator after your passing, or you can name someone else.
A living will should be added to assert your life support preferences. You can go down the list and record your choices for resuscitation, mechanical respiration, feeding tubes, artificial hydration, etc. The document can also include organ and tissue donation decisions.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Members of the medical community are not allowed to share health care information with anyone other than the patient because of HIPAA regulations. Your plan should include a HIPAA release to give your health care representative access to your medical records.
A young adult is protected by the HIPAA law as soon as they reach the age of 18. As a result, if you have an 18-year-old child that is hospitalized while they are away at college, doctors would not be able to discuss their condition with you.
You should encourage your children to sign HIPAA authorizations as soon as they reach the age of majority so you can speak freely with their physicians.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We are here to help if you would like to work with a Burbank, CA estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at (818) 937-2335.