Conversations That Count

Posted on

Dec 11, 2014

Book/Edition

Idaho - Boise and the Treasure Valley

Throughout the years that I have been in healthcare I have learned many things by observing the families that I am serving. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is to have conversations that count before a crisis. I have tried to live that out. I vividly remember at the age of 30 before I had my first child completing my advanced directives. Having children made certain things real for me. I didn't want my husband or my children to ever have to make difficult choices for me if I was facing a life threatening condition. I didn't want them to feel guilty or scared that they may have made the wrong decisions on my behalf. Every adult should have an advanced directive (also known as a living will and durable power of attorney for health care). An advanced directive is simply your written instructions about your future medical care. I have found over the years many people do not have an advanced directive because they are fearful about having honest conversations about both their desires and fears regarding end of life issues. It is also especially hard for adult children to sit down with their aging parents to encourage them to put their wishes in writing. Remember, you cannot assume that you know what someone else needs or wants. So before you start any conversation keep in mind that the purpose of the conversation is not to impose your ideas on others but to learn what your family members think about their own end of life choices. There are many things that occur in daily life that can give you an opportunity to start conversations within your family. Conversation triggers can include the death of a friend or colleague, movies, sermons, annual medical checkups, and, of course, funerals. You can obtain a living will and durable power of attorney for health care from your local hospital, an attorney, or from the Idaho Secretary of State. Once your advanced directive is complete and you have discussed it with your family, be sure to share this information with your physician. This will increase the likelihood that your advanced directive is honored. Ultimately, this process is about more than completing the advanced directive. That matters, because it will guide final actions. However, what matters most is the actual conversation with the people you love so you can honor their wishes, come to terms with inevitable loss, and honor the cycle of life. Article by Honey Goodman, Community Relations Director for Treasure Valley Hospice. For more information or for speaking opportunities please call 467-7423

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Healthcare Directives

Healthcare Directives are valuable to people in all walks of life. As you read this article, consider obtaining one for yourself.A Healthcare Directive is a tool to designate a health care agent, or someone to make health care decisions on your behalf. It goes into effect upon your inability to make or communicate health care decisions. If you fail to appoint someone to fill this role, the court will appoint a guardian, which may create a costly legal process. If you have Healthcare Directive, you are able to choose the person who will determine what treatments and health care you will receive, including end-of-life or palliative care decisions. Your health care agent makes surrogate decisions, which means that they step in your shoes and make the decisions that you would make on your own if you were able to do so.Ideally, surrogate decisions should be based on your input and the specific preferences you communicated before any loss of decision-making capacity. It should be based on a prior understanding your health care preferences and what you would want under the circumstances. Healthcare Directives are intensely personal documents. When thinking about creating your own, consider:Your values and how they may be reflected in your health care;Your priorities;What life means to you personally; andHow important quality of life is to you.Are there certain conditions that are worse than death to you? Would you undergo a risky procedure if it had a low chance of survival? What if that same procedure had a high chance of survival but would permanently lower your quality of life? How long would you like to be on life support? Its never fun to think about these things, but by selecting a health care agent and informing them of your preferences, you are preparing for the worst-case scenario and ensuring that your wishes will be followed. Clearly, the consequences of having or not having a Healthcare Directive can be huge, which is why we so strongly advocate that everyone, regardless of age or health, have one in their estate plan. Please dont leave your relatives to fumble in the dark if the unthinkable happens and you are unable to make your own health care decisions. Again, while an Healthcare Directive will be helpful to you in the future, you might have an elderly relative who is in need of one right now. So, whether you need one for yourself or for a loved one, contact us today at (385)334-4030 or send an email to info@skvlegal.com to set up your free consultation to determine your specific needs.

Wishes and Wills

We cant emphasize enough how important it is to review your will and insurance policies, reassign your Power of Attorney if necessary, and meet with your financial advisor(s) at the beginning of this decade. Ive changed my will three times, and I am 54 as of this writing. Life really does whiz by, and so do all the changes. About one month before your life insurance policy renews, put it on your calendar to meet with your agent. You are not bothering themyoure making their DAY! Regarding your financial advisors or broker, this is another helper you dont want to sit by the phone for, hoping they will call you. They typically only call you when they need you to sign an updated form or something new or unpleasant is about to happen with one of your funds (maybe), and theyll need your verbal permission to move your money into another account. Youll need to be proactive, checking in and scheduling your appointments, even if theyre just phone calls. If youre not certain how to properly access your statements and information online, make sure you get help from your advisor to get in and look, together. They might be the expert here, but in the end, youre in charge, and its YOUR money.Since you dont usually get to choose how youre going to leave this world, you DO get to choose how youll be, um...stored...after you die. In the jar or in the box? Ashes at sea or on a golf course? Do you want to be part of a trees seeds? I want my ashes scattered in Ireland, a trip Ill pay for, for my kids to take my ashy bits and put them into the Irish Sea. Its where my ancestors are from, but thats not the point. Its where I want my ashes to go. I love the ocean, and I love Ireland. And I love my kids. I want them to get on a plane to Dublin, pop into a pub, order beer and a big bowl of (Irish) stew, and talk about me. Im sure theyll regale the locals about what an awesome adventurer I was, and of course, a stellar mother. Then theyll take me to the sea, say a few words, and after checking wind conditions, toss my remains into the water. It's not pleasant to discuss or think about, but it is reality. I know this. We all do, really, we just dont talk about it. If you cant talk about it, write about it. When you pass away, there are going to be questions and uncertainty, let alone grief, from those who you loved you. They will need to understand your wishes as they are dealing with the loss, so it is truly helpful to record the answers to these questions, at the minimum. Make sure you give your executor or executrix this information sooner than later, and keep a copy for yourself.My name is ___________________, and this is what I want done with my: possessions: ________________________________________________________________ money: ____________________________________________________________________ funeral: ____________________________________________________________________ photos: ____________________________________________________________________ digital rights: ________________________________________________________________If you are looking for an incredibly easy tool to use, check out the Peace of Mind Planner: Important Information about My Belongings, Business Affairs, and Wishes, by Peter Pauper Press Inc. It has easy-to-use forms for final thoughts and hopes for you to convey to your family or anyone you will someday leave behind who loves you.This article was adapted from the book Chronological Order: The Fine Print for a Large Life, by Jill B. Yesko and Laurean Kile.

Your Kids Will Thank You

Your Kids Will Thank YouOne of the questions I often ask people who come to our workshops, is What do you want to accomplish when doing your estate plan?  Most people tell me they want to protect stuff from the nursing home, while others want to be smart about taxes. Some people say they just want to make things easy for their family. They dont want to be a burden and they want to keep the family peace. With this goal in mind, I want to share some tips on how we can put together a meaningful plan for your family to reduce their stress when you are affected with health issues. When you pass away, your family will go through the grieving process, but you dont want it to be a stressful time from a financial and or legal standpoint. Rather, you want to set your kids up for success.What Does It Mean By Setting Your Kids Up For Success? Often, when people do an estate plan theyll want to write a Will. When they pass away, the kids tend to take over as executor or trustee. If a parent gets sick before they pass away, the kids may take over as power of attorney or guardian. What Is Guardianship?Lets assume that people dont do any planning, and have no legal documents. Should they become incapacitated, their kids will end up in guardianship. Lets take Fred for example, who hasnt done any planning, and is a widower. If he has a stroke, his kids need to get control of the money and make decisions. However, if Fred has not done any planning, his kids cannot make decisions simply because they are his children. They have to go through a process called guardianship. This means taking Fred into the courthouse to be declared legally incapacitated, by a judge. The judge may request that the guardian reports back regularly, so that the judge can make sure the guardian is the right person to make the decisions. This can be an expensive legal process, which can also be emotionally challenging.Can Guardianship Be Avoided?Its easy to avoid the guardianship process by simply having a Power of Attorney document. This document lists somebody to be your agent, who will be your legal and financial decision maker. In the event that you become incapacitated, somebody else can act on your behalf. They can walk into any bank or financial institution with the Power of Attorney document, and do what needs to be done, while acting in your best interests. Fortunately, we dont need the courthouse to make it happen. While we cannot prevent getting sick as we get older, whether its having dementia or a stroke that affects us, we can give our kids the legal authority to make decisions. Communicate With Your KidsIn addition to having a Power of Attorney, you also need to have a Will or a Trust in place. We encourage our clients to use a trust instead of a Will, to avoid going through the probate process. Regardless of whether your child is the executor of a Will or the trustee of trust, when you pass away, they will have roles and responsibilities. It is important for you to communicate with your children to tell them about what their future roles and responsibilities will be. It is not enough to just create a document and leave it on the shelf. You need to tell your kids where your assets are, where you bank, who the financial advisor is and who the attorney is. Avoid The StressIt often happens after a parent has passed away, that the adult children come to us with a bag of their parents documents and paperwork, trying to make sense of it. The kids are not only grieving after losing a parent, but they now have to sort through mom or dads belongings and paperwork. They are also confused about what their responsibility is as an executor or trustee. I urge you to make it easy for your kids to fulfil their roles, by sharing details of where your assets are. You dont have to share details of the value of your assets while youre still living, but I encourage you to share the necessary details with your kids. This will help them with the administration and avoid a stressful situation.Why You Need An Advanced DirectiveWho would make any health care decisions, if you are affected by a health issue and cannot make decisions? You need to decide who that person will be, and communicate with them. If you are elderly woman with no surviving spouse, one of your children will have to make decisions if you are unable to. You would need a document called an Advanced Directive, stating what must be done if you get sick or become incapacitated. It is wise to appoint two different family members to make financial and healthcare decisions respectively.Consider Having A Life Care PlanI encourage you to consider enlisting our help to create a Life Care Plan, which we offer at Sechler Law Firm. This plan takes into consideration where you will get care, and how you will pay for it. It means your family will not have to worry about whether they have made the right decision about your care. We have a social worker and a healthcare professional on our team, because life care planning is more about healthcare planning than it is traditional legal work. However, we consider it to all be part of doing estate planning. To find out more, call 724-564-6615.  You can also learn more by coming to one of our Three Secrets Estate Planning Workshops. Call to register for an upcoming free workshop!