While no one likes to think about becoming physically or mentally incapacitated, it is still good to have a plan in place. A car accident can render you unconscious or disabled. Physical conditions and dementia resulting from old age can do the same. By having estate planning documents, your family members and loved ones will know your wishes and can act on your behalf.
We recommend the following basic legal documents to address potential incapacity:
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
A statutory durable power of attorney (DPA) grants the person you designate the legal authority to make financial decisions for you. You can grant them unlimited powers, meaning they can decide all aspects of your finances. Or, you can grant limited powers, which restricts what they can and cannot handle financially on your behalf. The DPA can become effective immediately if you become disabled or incapacitated. If so, you must have a doctor state in writing that you are incapacitated. A good analogy is: the DPA is the “vehicle,” but the doctor’s letter is the “key” to put it in motion.
Directive to Physicians
A directive to physicians states your preferences that establish guidelines for your physician or family regarding medical care if you become incapacitated, such as:
Take all extreme life saving measures (resuscitation, cardiac defibrillation, surgery, feeding tube, etc.)
Only take measures for comfort (pain medication, sedation, etc.)
Do not resuscitate order (no attempt be made to revive)
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney grants the right to make medical decisions on your behalf to the person you designate. It can become effective immediately based on disability or incapacity.
Federal law requires that all medical and health information be kept private. A HIPPA release enables you to list the people whom you want to give the right to access your medical information despite the HIPPA law (http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html).
At C.E. Borman & Associates (http://ceborman.com/), we can provide you with further explanations, answer your questions and create these documents based on your wishes.