Many of us cringe at the thought of “end of life planning,” or scheduling an appointment with an elder law attorney, as if this signals that the end is nigh. In fact, seeking legal help for your estate and medical care is a great way to preserve independence and to protect you from abuse later on. If you haven’t already, here are the top four documents that you should be bringing up with your attorney and physician, no matter how old you are.
Nearly two thirds of all people in the United States do not have a will, and many of them are under the age of 40. No matter how old you are, it’s crucial to talk to an attorney about writing a will while you’re still able to make your own decisions. Estate planning varies from state to state, so it’s crucial that you talk to a trusted estate planning attorney to be sure that you understand the law.
An Advance Directive
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to communicate your end of life wishes if you are ill and unable to communicate. It allows you to lay out your living will (what medical treatment you do and do not consent to) and medical power of attorney (an individual who is given power to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable). While advance directives can be quick and easy to fill out, talking to an elder law attorney can help ensure that your medical rights are respected.
A Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
Not all first responders and physicians have access to a patient’s advance directive, and when in doubt, they will err on the side of resuscitating and performing additional treatments on their patients. Individuals who have already completed an advance directive should also look into a POLST, which is a short medical document outlining what you do and do not want in the event of a medical emergency. It’s a medical document, rather than a legal form, but it will reinforce your advance directive.
A medicaid planning attorney can sit down with you to complete your medicaid application, guaranteeing that a neutral third party is able to interpret and explain the process. Many people shy away from using an attorney to complete their medicaid forms, but many attorneys will provide this service on a sliding scale. They also are bound by malpractice insurance, ensuring that your rights are respected.
Estate planning can be difficult, but with the support of a trusted attorney, the process can be quick and seamless. Taking the time to make decisions for yourself now will allow you to just focus on living your life later on.