What’s the Difference Between Medical Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney?


It is certainly difficult to think about but there is the possibility that at some point in the future you will become incapacitated and will not be able to handle day to day decisions regarding your health care or your finances. 

This is one of the most common reasons to establish an estate plan with the help of a lawyer who has experience in this field. Your lawyer can advise you about the questions you should go through in the process of what to consider when establishing these important documents. 

You can avoid extensive court proceedings that your loved ones would have to go through if you became incapacitated by doing your planning now. You can create a durable power of attorney for health care and for finances to appoint an attorney in fact, also known as an agent, to make decisions on your behalf. The documents that you’ll need to cover these key issues include a medical directive, also known as a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care, and a durable power of attorney for finances. Your living will specifically gives directions to any health care providers about wishes or plans you have around end of life care.

A durable power of attorney for health care, however, gives another person the authority to carry out your wishes listed in the medical directive and to make any other medical decisions as needed. 

Finally, a durable power of attorney for finances gives someone else authority over your assets, such as the ability to pay your mortgage if you are unable to do so. You should have all of these documents in place if you wish to have comprehensive protection should something happen to you.

Just How Important Is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

All of your estate planning materials should be drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney and reviewed on a regular basis.

Financial planning, estate planning and long-term care planning should always be conducted together to ensure that you’ve taken a long-range view and are able to appoint people to step in quickly to make decisions on your behalf if necessary. Even if you reviewed your estate planning years ago, your advanced health care directive, your will and your trust should be reviewed periodically. Advanced health care directives can be especially important if you were suddenly diagnosed with a serious medical condition such as cancer. use an advanced healthcare directive

A person who has been diagnosed with cancer will find their life completely turned upside down if they have not taken proper planning. Savings can be eliminated quickly, priorities change and jobs can be jeopardized. Furthermore, if you have not named a person to step in and make decisions on your behalf as it relates to your medical care, you could be exposed to a broad range of other problems. Setting up a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney who is mindful of all of the complicated issues affecting people in modern times can help you.  

Don’t Forget Healthcare Paperwork in Estate Planning

When you think of estate planning, there’s a good chance that a will or a trust comes to find. While crucial components of your plan, these are not the only things you need to consider when you sit down with a New Jersey estate planning attorney. Remember that there are many critical issues that can come to light during your life, so planning for potential incapacity is just as important as thinking about what happens to your property after you pass away. 

The legal issues surrounding the practice of medicine are complex and constantly changing. That’s why it’s important to have an estate planning attorney who understands these issues and works with you to protect what’s necessary. At a minimum, a healthcare power of attorney is necessary in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. If you have particular wishes about end of life care, this is something you should discuss with your attorney as well to ensure that you are appropriately protected.

Your state may have additional rules and requirements that you should know about. Having an attorney who is proactive can go a long way in helping you prepare for these complicated issues. As your life situation changes, you may need to update the powers of attorney as well as your other estate planning documents. Do not hesitate to identify the right attorney to help you with this process, as the ideal relationship between you and your lawyer is a long-term one.

To learn more about healthcare issues in planning, consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. This is particularly true if you’re looking to plan well in advance for potential Medicaid qualification.

The #1 Estate Planning Tip for Baby Boomers

We’ve had the opportunity to cover many different and important estate planning topics on the blog, but it can overwhelming to determine what actually needs your attention. Most individuals need at the very minimum a basic estate plan.

Gone are the days, however, when that basic estate plan covers all of your needs. For years, the primary focus of estate planning has been about how to handle your assets after you pass away. Definitely a worthy cause, it’s not the only thing that should draw your attention in the estate planning process.

Baby boomers in particular, who are entering retirement to the tune of 3.5 million people every single year, must consider life planning too. This is because longevity is on the rise. In the year 2050, it is estimated that one out of every five people will be over age 65. During that same time period, the fastest- growing demographic in the country will be those 85 and over.

This increase in longevity is coupled with the fact that more elderly people are living with one or more chronic diseases, too. In the past, these chronic diseases increased a senior’s mortality risk, but many people today are not just living but often thriving with one or more chronic conditions. Did you know, for example, that 92% of seniors are living with one chronic condition? incapacity planning attorney new jersey

Although you might be of sound mind now as you first enter retirement, it is in your best interests to put together estate planning documents associated with incapacity. This helps you to avoid fights among family members and confusion related to your wishes if something were to happen to you in the future.

Thankfully, many of these documents, like a healthcare power of attorney, can be put together by an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney. If something happens to you, having these documents in line can go a long way towards helping your appointed agent make the necessary decisions. Ready to schedule your appointment? Set up a meeting with us to talk today!

The Power of Delegating Control With End-of-Life Documents

Any person should have these three end-of-life documents in his or her arsenal. While many estate planning documents consider your options after you pass away, these help to give family members the authority to step in and help if you are incapacitated but still alive.Estate planning documents in a leather briefcase - vertical

Make sure you have considered these documents and who you want to serve in these roles:

  • Information release form: This gives doctors and medical professionals permission to share medical records details with designated representatives.
  • Durable power of attorney: Assists your agents with your legal and financial affairs management.
  • Advance directives: You should never assume that your family members know or are willing to carry out your medical decisions in the event tha tyou become unable to. A healthcare durable power of attorney names this representative, and a living will outlines the medical treatment you want or do not want at the end of your life.

Without delegating control in this manner, you can place your family in a difficult situation trying to determine what you would want. This can even lead to squabbles between family members who disagree. Where possible, having these documents in an easily-accessed place allows for your wishes to be carried out with as few concerns as possible. Make sure you have discussed this with your New Jersey estate planning attorney.

Quick Tips for Better Health Decisions

Using a healthcare power of attorney might seem emotionally exhausting when compared with a financial power of attorney, but it’s still a critically important document you must consider in your overall planning. Make sure that you carefully consider all the impacts of drafting a power of attorney and what events would trigger someone else making healthcare decisions for you.

One option is known as the springing power of attorney, which outlines the exact scenarios where someone else making such decisions could be triggered. This requires knowing your own thoughts and wishes when it comes to planning ahead, but these decisions should be made with care.

Keep a copy of any power of attorney you create on hand for hospital visits and ensure that a patient in serious condition is not left alone. If you are a loved one for someone who has serious medical needs, he or he may need assistance from family or other caregivers.

It is also prudent to keep track of a pad of paper to record medications, contact details for physicians, and any dietary restrictions. This can help keep the power appointed with the healthcare power of attorney “in the know” about the patient’s needs and desires.

It’s no small decision to select someone to play a potentially important role in your life. Walk through the basics of your power of attorney with an experienced estate planning attorney. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

Zip It: Put Your Plans on a USB Drive

We cannot predict when an accident or emergency is going to take place. All too often, hospitals and caretakers are unable to follow a person’s wishes for medical treatment – even if he or she had the correct documents in place – because these documents are not immediately available. In order to avoid this fate, a recent article discusses the option of keeping critical documents on a USB drive.

English: A Sandisk-brand USB thumb drive, SanD...
A Sandisk-brand USB thumb drive, SanDisk Cruzer Micro, 4GB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A USB drive is a portable storage device that can be attached to a keychain or stored in a wallet. In order to view its contents, a user can simply plug it into any computer with a USB port. If your friends or family members are aware that you carry it with you, they can review its contents should they be required to make any medical or legal decisions on your behalf.

In order to protect yourself and your wishes in the event of an emergency, your USB drive should include a HIPAA release, living will, and medical power of attorney. It is not advisable to put a password on this drive because then the documents will not be easily accessible. However, do not store sensitive information on your USB drive, such as account numbers and passwords, unless it is password protected or encrypted.

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