Estate Planning for Seniors and most people follow a path of breaking down the needs of each of us into different areas: A Plan for while we are living especially in case of incapacity; and A plan for when we die.
While we are alive having the correct documents are very important, but they are often an overlooked part of our planning.
The most important document for most people is the Financial Power of Attorney or sometimes called a Durable General Power of Attorney. During COVID many people were caught by surprise when they were unconscious, or in the emergency room for long periods of time. Without a finance power of attorney, who will pay your bills and manage your finances. If you are a joint owner with another, that other person could take care of your accounts. Just because you are married doesn’t mean that the spouse will be able to make those decisions for you. With a precise document, a designated person or a finance power of attorney or attorney-in-fact can manage things for you. Without this document, you may need to have an attorney go to court and petition for a conservatorship and then your finances will be controlled under the oversight of the court with a conservator making the decisions.
The next document you need is a Health Care Power of Attorney. With this document, you can have an agent or person to make medical decisions for you while you are unconscious or without capacity. In Tennessee you can designate whether you want the Health Care Power of Attorney or the Living Will to be in control when there is a difference between documents. Sometimes the Living Will is created but not looked at for decades. Technology changes, diseases change, and new ones are discovered, or people change their minds. The agent is normally in the best position to make the best decision for you.
Like the Health Care Power of Attorney, the Living Will is a document that expresses your health care desires and your desires for using life support and under what circumstances to use life support. The Living Will is not a person but a document that can help your health care agent have more confidence that they are doing what you would want them to do. Some people get confused and think the Living Will is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or a Tennessee Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POLST) but for that type of document you must work with a physician.
The HIPAA is familiar to most people. You are asked about a HIPAA form often when you go to a health care provider. The health care providers are becoming stricter and not giving out any information unless there is a HIPAA release. This could even be to tell a person’s spouse that their husband has been moved to a different hospital.
This is minimum planning for times when you are alive but unable to make decisions or communicate your wishes or desires.
For more information, contact our Lebanon, TN office at 615-444-3568 and schedule your appointment today.