What Will Happen if I Can’t Take Care of My Family or Myself?
Although most of us would prefer to die peacefully in our sleep after a day of pleasurable activity, the majority of Americans (63 percent) die in hospitals and another 17 percent die in other institutional settings, such as nursing homes, having been incapacitated for some period of time. Unwillingness to face and prepare for uncomfortable possibilities puts us at risk of having decisions made about our healthcare, property, heirs, and finances without our personal input. As a matter of fact, 20 to 30 percent will die without having an advance directive, such as a living will, in place, and most will only be referred to hospice or palliative care too late to reap its benefits.
For concerned and compassionate estate planning attorneys these realities are particularly
Documents that a Competent Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You Prepare
While some people are tempted to download important document forms from their computers, this is not a good idea. Only with a practiced, skilled estate planning attorney at the helm can you be sure that the documents you sign are drafted according to local and federal law and are legally binding. Only attorneys who specialize in estate planning will be able to assist you in creating an estate plan that includes all necessary documents, such as:
- Durable Power of Attorney empowers another individual, typically your personal attorney or a loved one, to carry on your financial affairs if you become unable to do so. This document will prevent your wife or adult child from the costly, time-consuming need to petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator. Anyone who is of legal age and is considered legally
competent,can be chosen for this position.
- Health Care Proxy (Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare) designates the person you want to make decisions relative to your medical treatment if you become unable to make such decisions for yourself. You can either leave the decision-making process in this person’s hands or give instructions that the individual, doctors and other healthcare professionals are required to follow.
- Living Will lets your wishes concerning preferred medical treatment be known in case you become unconscious or unable to communicate for some other reason. Like other estate planning tools, it can prevent unnecessary delay and/or expense if you become incapacitated in the future.
- HIPAA Authorization makes absolutely clear that you want particular individuals, such as your spouse or adult children, to have access to your medical information so they can make informed choices about your care.
The estate planning attorney you choose should be well-credentialed, experienced and proficient so that you feel completely confident putting your own future and your family’s well-being in his or her hands.