Advance Directives in the PandemicSubmitted by Kaizen Financial Advisors, LLC on July 17th, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has shown a spotlight on healthcare for the elderly, who are the most prone to dying from the disease. And that, in turn, has brought renewed attention to what may be the most overlooked part of a person’s (elderly or not) estate plan: the advance directives.
Advance directives means the living will and the health care proxy or power of attorney—legal documents that lay out your (or your parents’) wishes when you (or your parents) cannot tell the doctors whether to prolong your life or proceed with that expensive medical intervention. A living will dictates to medical providers what kinds of medical care you want at the end of your life, should you be unable to communicate these things yourself. Health care proxies or powers of attorney allow you to designate someone to make your chosen medical decisions for you if you’re unable to communicate. Most people should have both, since not all medical situations will trigger a living will.
The advance directives in your will are an integral part of your overall estate plan and ensure you oversee important medical decisions with your own voice or by directing someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. This empowers your loved ones and medical team to make the best decisions regarding your care while avoiding any disagreements.
With the health care proxy, it’s important to select the right person to make your health decisions—someone who you know will follow your wishes, rather than simply tell the doctors to do whatever they can to preserve a life whose quality was already lost. And make sure you have designated a backup in case that person isn’t available. In addition, people who are creating these documents might want to explain their thinking, so that loved ones will understand the point and purpose of the directive.
Of course, the documents will have to be available when needed. People can store the originals in a secure location and, for our clients, we retain a copy in our secure portal. Make sure your family knows where to find them and how to reach Kaizen in the event the unexpected happens. Furthermore, a best practice is to carry a card that has the health care agent's name and contact information, and which also tells where you stored the originals and copies.
If you or someone you love does not yet have these important documents in place reach out to your Kaizen Advisor. Kaizen has trusted relationships with several estate planning attorneys that we would be happy to put you in contact with. Having all aspects of estate planning in place is an essential part of your overall financial health.