Why All Elderly Parents Should Prepare a Living Will
Many years ago, before my husband and I even fit into the elderly parents category, we made the decision to prepare a living will. I also nominated my husband to be my healthcare representative in the event that I wasn’t able to make my own decisions, and I made sure that all estate planning was in order. The reasons for this were simple, I didn’t want my family to have to go through any type of conflict should the unexpected happen.
Even though we haven’t yet had a need for any of the legal documents, we’re much more comfortable in our San Diego senior housing while knowing that there’s a plan in place. I can’t stress how important it is that you do the same.
What a Living Will Means for Elderly Parents
A living will is a legally binding document that will ensure your healthcare provider and family have a clear outline of your wishes should you require treatment while you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. This could be following an illness or a serious accident where you are mentally incapacitated.
While this type of will could cover the specifics of treatment, it can also outline any beliefs (religious or otherwise) that would have an impact on the preferred type of treatment that you receive. This document would be robust enough so that it would apply to a number of possible scenarios.
Assigning Power of Attorney
A proxy directive, or power of attorney for healthcare, is another legal document that you should arrange as part of your estate planning. Just as important as a will or a trust, this document will ensure that you have a trusted loved one who can make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. This could be your spouse, or somebody close who understands your best interests.
Who Should You Choose as Your Healthcare Representative
Your healthcare representative can be any trusted friend or family member. You can also choose a physician, but due to conflicts of interest they cannot be the same physician that provides you with treatment.
Keep in mind that your representative will need to make hard decisions that might be controversial within your extended family and group of friends. Make sure that the representative is comfortable with their role, and they should have a strong understanding of your values and wishes.
The Key Differences Between a Proxy Directive and Living Will
Your living will is a document that outlines your preferences when it comes to receiving any necessary medical treatment. This document will be the first point of reference for any procedures that needs to be made when you are incapable of making decisions. In comparison, the proxy directive gives power of attorney to a single person, who will make decisions based on their close knowledge of you and your wishes or values.
Either of these legal options can be used individually, but it also makes sense to have both a living will and a proxy directive as part of your estate planning. This will mean that you still have a trusted representative in the event that your living will does not cover the decisions that need to be made.
What Will It Cost to Prepare a Living Will and Proxy Directive?
If you’re living in San Diego senior housing on a fixed income, then you’ll want to know just how much it will cost to prepare the documents. There are two options. You could have an attorney to help you complete all the documents and make them binding, or in some cases you will be able to obtain the forms from the department of health, and then have them notarized. Although it does cost more, working with an attorney is often beneficial because you can discuss other matters of your estate, such as setting up a trust or creating a complete will for all of your assets.
Keep Multiple Copies of Your Legal Documents
Your attorney, your nominated healthcare representative, and other close family members or friends should have a copy of your living will and proxy directive. If you see the same physician regularly, they should also have a copy.
Elderly parents all over America are now making these documents a top priority, and so should you. By taking these steps to plan in advance, you can have peace of mind knowing that no matter what happens, your wishes will be met.