What Is a Psychiatric Advanced Directive?

Much like a health care power of attorney or a medical advanced directive, a psychiatric advanced directive is a legal document that is completed to provide instructions regarding the services or treatment that a person wants to have or wants to refuse to have during a mental health crisis.

These choices could significantly influence the type of psychiatric care available to the patient but this becomes very important when a mental health crisis emerges and the patient is no longer able to speak up for themselves.

Anyone who is potentially hospitalized for a mental health condition could become too sick to stay in charge of their treatment and make informed decisions about what they do and don’t want. During these times, doctors and other medical professionals will turn to advanced directives to help get inside about specific wishes that the patient made in advance of this particular health crisis. 

This document can be used to spell out your individual wishes about what type of services, assistance, and treatments you want to have access to when you are sick or those that you do not want used for your treatment if you are no longer able to make decisions in your care. 

This directive provides a clear statement about your instructions and your medical treatment preferences and can also be used to grant legal decision-making authority to another person who serves as your health care agent and advocate until the mental health crisis is over. For more information about how to use advanced directives and other tools and documents to help you plan ahead, schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney today.     

Why A Sudden Medical Diagnosis Makes End of Life Planning Important

A terminal or serious medical diagnosis can put a person in the position of realizing that they have far less time than expected to get their affairs in order. This raises important questions about the accuracy of your estate planning documents and important steps that you need to take to protect yourself as well as your loved ones. You need to consider questions such as; what is the best way to leave assets to your heirs? Should you pay off your mortgage or leave it alone?

A devastating medical diagnosis has ripple effects that can be felt throughout your family but giving into panic without planning can be a big mistake. When faced with disability or chronic disease, an experienced estate planning attorney should be contacted as soon as possible. While it may be uncomfortable, awkward or even filled with guilt because you haven’t done enough planning in the past, it’s important to use a professional to bridge some of the most common issues. Estate planning usually does occur with an emotionally charged event, but all kinds of issues that you hadn’t previously considered might suddenly boil to the surface. Make sure that you have a notebook so that you can keep track of all of your documents, the questions you need to answer and personal details. 

Having all of this information in one place makes it much easier if you are suddenly unable to make decisions on your own behalf. You can allow a power of attorney or other agent to step in and get things tied up quickly. The first and most basic estate planning document is your will.

If you do not currently have one, a good place to start is making a list of all your assets including retirement accounts, real estate, and financial accounts. The will includes most of the important details related to things that do not have a beneficiary. Property is best spelled out in a will and this should always be done with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Plenty of celebrities have provided for case studies for what not to do when it comes estate planning and thankfully, you can avoid these obstacles by working directly with an experienced and dedicated lawyer.


Do I Need Both a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

When it comes to estate planning, it’s hard to know what documents you need versus those that are not necessary for your individual situation. The only way to know for sure is to schedule a meeting with an estate planning lawyer directly. That way you can share your interests and desires and the lawyer can help you pick the documents necessary for protecting your future and your intentions for your assets. Two of the documents you might discuss during this meeting are the healthcare power of attorney and a living will. power of attorney

It is strongly recommended that any person have both a health care representative appointment and an advanced medical directive. These documents do not accomplish the same goals. While they may overlap in some of the responsibilities outlined in the documents, they offer different benefits. There are two primary types of advanced medical directives and these deal with end of life decisions.

Although the living will is the most common, some states do allow for the life-prolonging procedure declaration. Advanced medical directives allow you as the creator to provide clear guidance about how life decisions should be handled and what types of care should be provided to you or avoided. This allows you to tell both your doctors and your family members what kind of care you do want at the end of your life. A healthcare power of attorney, however, can be part of a representative appointment or the same goals can be included in a durable power of attorney. Both of these enable someone else to make medical decisions for you in the event that you cannot make them on your own. This includes all medical care decisions regarding end of life. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you have a goal of establishing these concerns early on.

Five Essential End of Life Documents That You Should Have Organized

Many people can share a horror story about a loved one who did not have appropriate end of life care documents set up when an incapacitating event occurred.

In order to avoid a crisis in your own family, it is a good idea to think about having these documents for yourself as well as for aging parents. These include:

  • Durable power of attorney which typically will go into effect immediately and give an agent the authority to manage someone’s finances if he or she becomes incapacitated.
  • Medical information release which gives your parents’ doctors permissions to share medical records with you. Without a standardized release form, it’s a good idea for your parent to get one from their primary care physician and any specialists.
  • A healthcare proxy. This may also be referred to as a power of attorney for healthcare and this gives an authorized agent the right to make medical decisions on behalf of someone else if that person is unable to do so. This is also an important opportunity to consider a conversation about what the other person considers to be an acceptable quality of life.
  • A living will which allows the authorizing person to detail written guidance about the kind of treatment that the parent wants or doesn’t want in the event of a terminal illness.

Do not hesitate to set up a meeting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney to learn more about ow you and your parents can benefit from planning opportunities.


Guarding Against Incapacity: Documents You Need

It’s Estate Planning Awareness Week and a good opportunity to remember that estate planning is about more than what happens when you pass away. It’s also about what happens during your lifetime. Should you become suddenly incapacitated, would you have someone to step in and help with your affairs? 

Two key documents are worth considering in this process. When you plan properly, you can help to protect your assets and estate while you’re still alive. The first document to consider is a durable power of attorney. This allows someone else to manage your affairs if you were to become unable to do so as a result of a disability or other issue. This person can pay bills for you, direct investments, or file taxes when you are unable to do it.

The other document you should keep in your arsenal is an advanced medical directive. This means someone else can make medical decisions on your behalf. You can talk more with your New Jersey estate planning lawyer about how these work and how to choose someone to serve in this role.

3 Steps for Baby Boomers Without a Plan

While every mentally competent individual over the age of 18 should have an estate plan in place, it is especially important that Baby Boomers without a plan begin to put something together. A recent article offers several estate-planning strategies for baby boomers to begin planning:

Last Will And Testament
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    1. Create a Will and Trust: No matter what type of estate planning scheme a person employs, he or she should incorporate a will into that scheme. Within a will, a person can designate a guardian for his or her minor children, as well as the distribution of personal items such as heirlooms and valuable items.

    2. Designate a Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a vital document for any estate plan, because it allows you to designate a person to handle your financial and legal affairs should you be involved in an accident.

    3. Create a Health-Care Power of Attorney and Living Will: Just as a power of attorney allows an individual to designate the person who will handle his or her financial and legal affairs in the event of an accident or emergency, a health care power of attorney allows an individual to designate the person who will make medical decisions on his or her behalf.

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Auld Lang Syne: Talk Estate Planning This New Year

Family Discussion
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While it is not the first item on everyone’s resolution list, the New Year is a great time to discuss your estate plan with your family. As a recent article explains, the benefits of having the estate planning discussion far outweigh the problems that may otherwise arise out of the desire to avoid a sometimes awkward or difficult conversation.

First, discussing estate planning provides your family with a sense of empowerment because it allows your family members to take control of your family’s collective future. Without this element of control, many aspects of your estate plan are inevitably left to chance.

Additionally, through discussing estate planning, you can pass on your family values. For example, discussing charitable giving is a great way to talk about the causes you are passionate about. Additionally, you can discuss the stories behind sentimental objects and why you are distributing them as you have selected.

Finally, discussing your estate plan with your family helps to prepare the family, should you become incapacitated. Your family will be better able to carry out your wishes and tend to your affairs if they know what your plan for incapacity is and how you would like them to implement it.

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Give Serious Consideration to End of Life Decisions

One major part of estate planning is determining what kind of care, if any, you would like to receive at the end of your life. Although most people would rather not think about the end of their life, a recent article explains the importance of giving serious consideration to end-of-life care.

If you have thought about what type of care, if any, you would like to receive at the end of your life, it is important to complete an advanced medical directive and a medical power of attorney. These documents will allow you to put these desires in writing so that medical staff will be aware of your wishes when you cannot otherwise communicate with them. Additionally, they allow you to select the person who you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Sample Virginia Durable Do Not Resuscitate Ord...
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One common type of advanced directive is a do not resuscitate order (“DNR”). A DNR advises medical staff not to take life-saving measures in the event that death is imminent. If you have a DNR, it is important to keep it in an easily accessible location, and inform your family and doctors of its existence. Importantly, an advanced directive that directs medical staff not to prolong the dying process does not withhold medicine and other procedures meant to keep you comfortable during the dying process.

Conversely, you could also complete a prolonging procedure declaration. This document instructs medical staff to do everything they can to delay death, even when it is imminent.

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