Why you need to Execute Durable Power of Attorney Documents

Posted on

Dec 16, 2014


Idaho - Boise and the Treasure Valley

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A Guardianship To Help Our Loved Ones All of us have family or friends who need assistance, whether financially, physically or, in the case of this article, mentally. In caring for our loved ones, it is important to know some legal guidelines to best serve them. When a person loses the ability to think clearly, it affects his or her ability to participate in meaningful decision-making. If that individual is unable to make rational, clear-headed decisions about health care, finances or other aspects of life, guardianship and/or conservatorship may be the next step if the person does not have power of attorney documents in place or if there is disagreement among family members about these issues. To appoint a guardian, a court must declare a person to be incapacitated based on findings where: A person who, due to his or her mental, physical and emotional status, prevents him or her from taking care of his/her own basic needs; and As a result, that person is in danger of substantial harm; and There is no one already legally authorized to make substitute decisions for the person. If the criteria are met, the court transfers the responsibility of determining living arrangements and medical decisions to the guardian and the responsibility for managing assets and finances to the conservator. Guardians and conservators have a duty to act in the best interest of the incapacitated person and in the least restrictive manner. Regular reports must be submitted to the court regarding the status of the incapacitated person and his or her finances and assets. Guardians - A guardianship is a legal right and duty given to a person to be responsible for managing the food, health care, housing, and other necessities of a person deemed fully or partially incapable of managing these necessities for him or herself. Conservators - A conservatorship is a legal right and duty given to a person to be responsible for managing the assets and finances of a person deemed fully or partially incapable of managing them for him or herself. Keep in mind it is possible to avoid the necessity of a guardianship and/or conservatorship through a good estate plan that includes both a medical power of attorney and a general durable power of attorney which permit trusted individuals to make health care decisions and manage financial affairs in the event of incapacity. This article was written by Donna A. Schuyler, Attorney, who practices in the areas of estate planning, elder law, guardianship and probate. Donna Schuyler Law, PLLC; elderlawboise.com; Phone 208-344-1947

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Plan While You Still Can

Plan While You Still Can Do you know what healthcare treatments you would and would not want if you could not speak for yourself? Have you considered what wouldhappen if you were no longer able to make decisions for your healthcare or finances? These are hard questions to think about but taking time to answer them and make them official is essential. To make your decisions knownand give power to those you choose, you need legal documents in place; specifically, a Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney, an Advanced Directive,and a Financial Durable Power of Attorney. A Healthcare DPOA allows you to document who makesmedical decisions about your healthcare. The person designated as your agent is authorized to speak ONLY if you cant speak for yourself. An AdvancedDirective is a document that states your wishes for medical treatments at the end of life. These documents are essential for making your healthcare wishesknown and avoiding a Guardianship during incapacity. You can prepare these documents with an Estate Planning or Elder Law Attorney, or there are freeversions of them available with the Center for Practical Bioethics. A Financial DPOA is a document that gives authority from oneperson (the principal) to another person (the agent) for the agent to act on behalf of the principal. These are much more technical and require theassistance of an attorney to ensure they are prepared properly. Creating a Financial DPOA is essential for you to ensure your finances are in the hands ofsomeone you trust. If this year has taught us anything, its to plan while you can. Talk to your attorney to get started.Disclaimer: This is not intended to be legal counsel. The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.This article was submitted by Aaron L. Love, JD, an attorney with The Love Law Group, LLC and may be reached at 816-554-3330 or by email at planning@lovelawgroup.com.

The True Benefit of Palliative Care: Talking to Patients About Their Goals and Wishes

Recent articles in Annals of the American Thoracic Society highlight why goals-of-care (GOC) conversations and advance care planning (ACP) sessions should be common in primary practices, specialty clinics, hospitals, and care facilities for patients facing the challenges of advanced lung disease and other advanced illnesses.  Suggesting a goals-of-care conversation should be as commonplace in a clinicians daily routine as taking vital signs.  We want our healthcare colleagues to know that we are prepared to step in and help facilitate these conversations on their behalf. We will follow up by providing expert end-of-life care in patients preferred settings to achieve the comfort-focused modalities and support they want and deserve.  Engaging in and completing these conversations delivers measurable, high-impact results for all parties involved.Where to Start a Goals-of-Care Conversation: 5 QuestionsHere are 5 questions you can ask your patient with advanced illness to help guide their care:What do you understand about your disease?What are your fears and concerns about your worsening health?What is important to you?What do you want your medical care to look like moving forward?Are you ready to put your wishes and goals for care in writing so that you, your family, and your medical care team know your preferences?For patients, GOC conversations result in better outcomes and greater satisfaction of care. For healthcare providers, they result in goal-concordant care that delivers measurable cost savings for patients who have incurable diseases like advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer.  Data cited in this quarters perspective (Ruggiero, R. and Reinke, L.), in fact, notes that the inclusion of palliative care which is built around GOC conversations and advance care planning saves an average of $3,237 per patient over the course of a hospital stay, compared with patients who do not receive palliative care.Sooner Is BetterOur message to our non-hospice, non-palliative care healthcare colleagues is that the sooner these conversations take place, the better it is for everyone involved.Editors Note: Article submitted by Evalisa McClure, general manager for VITAS (insert trademark) Healthcare. For more information about end-of-life care options, call VITAS Healthcare at 866.759.6695.

What is advance care planning?

For more information on Encompass Health, Click Here.Life happens fast sometimes this can result in you or a loved one facing a terminal illness or needing unexpected life-saving care. According to an AARP study, only about one-third of adults have a plan in place that expresses their wishes for end-of-life care.Advance care planning is a process that helps us plan for life's what if moments. This process gives individuals and their caregivers the opportunity to plan for future healthcare decisions should they be unable to make their own decisions or speak for themselves.Whether your'e facing an acute illness, terminal diagnosis or an unexpected accident, advance care planning can help alleviate the burden on you and your loved ones while also ensuring you receive care that is consistent with your beliefs, values, wishes and goals.What are the benefits of advance care planning?Advance care planning gives individuals and their loved ones peace of mind during moments of unforeseen illness or injury. Creating a plan ahead of time can help improve your quality of life during a healthcare crisis and also alleviates the worry of loved ones wondering if they did the right thing on your behalf.In addition to helping individuals and their families, advance care planning also ensures your healthcare teams knows your preferences and whether you would like to receive life-sustaining measures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), ventilator use or comfort care.Advance care planning is an important part of disease self-management for many older Americans currently living with one or more chronic conditions. While many people living with a chronic disease are able to experience a high quality of life, these diseases are also typically accompanied by periods of gradual decline.Taking the time to talk through possible life-altering situations with your loved ones gives you the opportunity to express your wishes and ensure your voice is heard so that your healthcare preferences are honored when it matters most.What are advance directives?While its important to talk about your wishes, its even more important to document them. Research shows that people who document their preferences by using advance directives are more likely to get the care they prefer at the end of life than people who do not.Advance directives are a group of legal documents that express an individuals healthcare choices should they become unable to communicate their own decisions, and they can be updated at any time should their beliefs or viewpoints change. Examples of advance directives include a medical power of attorney, living will or directive to a physician. One of the most important elements of an advance directive is naming a trusted friend or family member as a medical power of attorney, giving them healthcare decision making rights. Choosing someone you trust as your healthcare proxyand whom you have had multiple discussions with regarding your beliefs, wants and goalsis one of the best ways to ensure your healthcare choices are honored in times of unforeseen medical crises.A living will is another important document that allows you to outline your healthcare preferences in specific situations. For some people, staying alive as long as medically possible is important to them, and therefore they might elect aggressive treatment should they be faced with a life-threatening situation. Others may choose to receive comfort care instead.When should I start advance care planning?Its common to ignore the possibility of serious disease, life-threatening trauma or death until a crisis occurs. However, these circumstances bring pain and trauma not only to the person afflicted, but to their loved ones as well.None of us know what tomorrow may bring, so its smart to start planning for the future now. Having a plan in place and beginning these discussions with your loved ones can help you prepare for a potential life-threatening event and greatly reduce the burden it may bring.