Most do not realize that planning for the end of your life is not just about estate planning but it is actually much more complicated. What if something happens and you end up unable to make financial decisions or choose your medical treatment? You do not want to leave these important decisions and this important job to just anyone. Now is the time to start planning and decide who you trust to carry out your wishes if something were to happen. Just like planning for your death, planning for the possibility that you could become incapable of making your own decisions sometime in the future is a critical part of your overall estate plan.
Below is a brief outline of some documents that we believe are essential for all people to have as a part of their overall plan. These documents, which fall under Elder Law, act together with your estate planning documents to ensure that you are adequately protected. Don’t let the name fool you; you do not have to be a senior to need the protection of these documents. Don’t try to navigate through this process alone. Our firm is here to guide you and carry out your wishes in the exact manner you choose.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is a document that allows an agent of your choice to make health care decisions should you ever be determined incapable of making these very important decisions. Upon the finding of incapacity by a doctor, the agent then is given the authority to make these decisions until capacity is restored. However, if you are still able to communicate your wishes and they differ from that of the health care agent, your wishes will trump those of the agent. It is critical to understand that it is impossible to plan for every possible health care situation you may face, making it essential that you discuss your wishes and desires openly and candidly with your health care agent.
As an extension of a health care proxy, a living will allows you to put your final intentions in writing if you are confronted with an end-of-life medical situation. Additionally, it allows you to appoint a trusted fiduciary to be responsible for the very important job of carrying out these intentions. We all remember the heartbreaking case of Terri Shiavo where her wishes were not formally documented, leaving an internal family dispute. No one wants a situation like that to happen to them. By choosing wisely, you are not only protecting yourself from possible invasive procedures that you do not want, but you are also assisting your family in making very difficult decisions in accordance with your wishes. Even though a living will is not considered binding in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts it is still a very key document in communicating your health care wishes. Once again, talk to those close to you about your final wishes for the extension of your life. The act of putting it in writing will leave you feeling confident that your wishes will not be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document in which an individual gives the power to make monetary decisions to another. Such powers can be specific and limited, or they can be broad and general. It all depends upon the wishes of the maker of this document. The maker of a power of attorney takes control of what happens to your assets and income by appointing a trusted person as the attorney in fact. The powers given can either become invalid upon a finding of incompetency or they can be durable meaning that the powers remain effective no matter what the competency of the person is found to be.
These are big decisions that must be made carefully and wisely. Short-sighted thinking will leave you and your loved ones in a position that no one wants. One without a plan.
Contact our office today for a free consultation. We recognize the delicate nature of this subject and will always remain sensitive to this fact. Don’t leave your loved ones with the burden of having to decide what to do if you are either physically or mentally incapable of making important life decisions. Instead, spell it out for your loved ones in the documents described above so that there is no room for second-guessing your wishes. We will sit down with you, discuss your specific situation, and help you determine what the best choice is for you! We will stand behind you, ensuring that your best interest is the number one priority.