Every February, American Heart Month begins as a friendly reminder to think about your heart health. This commemorative month was established in 1963 and prompts us to combat heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. Even with the high mortality rate of Covid-19, heart disease continues to be the dominant cause of death in the United States. Ultimately, American Heart Month is a great time to review your heart health and build healthy habits for the future. Of course, don't forget to consider who will act as your medical agent if you are unexpectedly stricken with a heart attack.
Various states have differing titles for medical agents, including a medical power of attorney, an advanced health care directive agent, a health surrogate, a health or medical proxy, and more. Regardless of the title your state uses, this person will make all medical decisions for you if you ever become too ill to communicate your wishes.
This person plays an essential role in making critical decisions regarding your health. Your medical agent should understand your medical wishes because they decide what care you will or won’t receive by communicating with providers caring for you. Also, keep in mind this person gains access to your private information, so you should consider all these factors before deciding who will act on your behalf.
It is easy to assume anyone close to you is fit to be your medical agent, but this is not the case. Consider someone you know will stay level-headed in emotional situations since everyone handles stress differently. Your medical agent should be reasonably assertive because of the many family opinions and doctor recommendations they will have to navigate. This person should be comfortable silencing others opinion to focus on your wants and needs when making decisions.
Your medical agent should live close to you because something unexpected can come up at any moment. This person will have to act on your behalf quickly and efficiently so that you don’t have to wait for care if you are incapable of speaking for yourself.
It is crucial to make sure your medical agent is willing to set time aside in case of a medical emergency. Having this title is both time-consuming and emotionally draining, so reach out to the person you’d like to act as your medical agent and address any concerns. Doing this in advance will help you choose someone willing to take on this responsibility.
You must choose a medical agent who will make decisions following your wishes. The person you choose needs to set aside their own wants to focus on making the decisions you expressed previously. Your medical agent acts as your voice even if they don't agree with your course of action, so be sure to find someone you can trust to follow your wishes if you are incapable.
Remember, even if you believe someone is right for the title, some states prohibit certain individuals from acting as a medical agent.
Many states don’t allow minors to be patient advocates, but there can be exceptions. Also, remember not everyone over the age of 18 qualifies to act as a medical agent so talking with a professional can help clarify state restrictions.
Not every state restricts health care providers from acting as medical agents, but most do. These restrictions can be overlooked if the health care provider is a family member, but make sure to take the proper steps to allow this. Furthermore, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky allow your health care provider to act as your medical agent if they are an active member of your religious organization.
If you haven’t decided who will act as your medical agent, Anderson, Dorn, and Rader can help determine the best fit. If you need someone to act as a backup, our attorneys are willing to build a strong relationship with you to understand your needs in case of an emergency. We will ensure that your wishes are carried out and written as required by state law.
Contact us now to discuss how to properly name a medical agent, as well as discuss other advance care directives.
A living will is an advance directive for health care, and, along with a health care power of attorney, should be part of any comprehensive estate plan. It is important to plan ahead for the possibility of incapacity before passing away, but many people fail to do so.
While it is not a pleasant subject, you should consider the period of time that will precede your death. During this interim there may be some medical decisions that have to be made and you may not be capable of making these decisions yourself.
This is why advance directives are important.
A living will is used to state your choices with regard to the use of artificial hydration and nutrition, ventilators, and other life-sustaining procedures when you are in a terminable condition.
Opinions vary widely about being kept alive indefinitely through the utilization of artificial means. You should state your own wishes in your living will. Your health care power of attorney will allow someone you have designated to act in your place to decide your level of care according to your express wishes.
When you do this you are doing what you can to ensure the outcome that you would prefer. You are also avoiding potential disagreements among family members who may have differing opinions about your wishes for the level of care you would prefer.
A reputable legal website recently conducted a survey that revealed some startling results. 61% of the adults who responded said that they didn't have a living will.
If you are among them you would do well to take action to put your advance health care directives in place as soon as possible. If you live in the Reno-Sparks area and you are unsure about how to proceed don't hesitate to contact our firm to request a free consultation.
Planning for the future sometimes involves considering uncomfortable topics such as mental or physical incapacity. To prepare for this eventuality you will need to select an individual who can handle your financial and medical affairs. If you have established a revocable living trust your successor trustee would be in a position to manage your assets in trust. A durable power of attorney would authorize the agent that you select to manage your assets that you own that are not in trust. The health care power of attorney is used to appoint an agent to make medical decisions in the event of your incapacity. The individual that you may want to see managing your financial affairs may not be the same person who you would like to make medical decisions in your behalf.
One thing to remember is the need to provide your health care agent with the authority to access your medical records. The medical community may not release medical information to anyone without your consent. This is accomplished by including a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release when you are executing your estate planning documents. To learn more about planning ahead for the possibility of incapacity get in touch with us for a free consultation. You can contact us by clicking this link: Reno Incapacity Planning Consultation
While we would all like everyone in our families to get along perfectly at all times reality is something different for most people. Many families are comprised of very different types of personalities, and in fact blended families can include individuals who really don't have a whole lot in common.
And even if you have a relatively small family that is close-knit each person simply may not agree about certain courses of action.
This is why it is important to state your wishes about the use of medical procedures if you were to fall into an irreversible terminal condition. The case of Terri Schiavo several years ago underscores the importance of executing a living will.
In addition to this there is the matter of final arrangements. There are a lot of decisions that must be made with regard to your funeral and the handling of your body. Exactly how to proceed can be a matter of debate unless you are very clear about your wishes when you are devising your estate plan.
These are details that can sometimes be overlooked by people who are primarily focused on asset transfers. The best way to make sure that all of your bases are covered is to work with a licensed estate planning lawyer who will guide you through all the details and see to it that nothing gets overlooked.
Trying to cover all of your bases for when the latter portion of your life rolls around means you have to consider factors beyond simply arranging for the transfer of assets after you pass away. Reaching an advanced age is certainly a milestone, but other detrimental possibilities loom with age, and it is important to be prepared for them.
A lot of people don't realize just how long lifespans are these days. Americans are living longer than ever, with people 85 years and older making the fastest-growing segment of the population. Clearly, when you reach your mid-80s and beyond the possibility that you won't be able to make all of your own medical decisions becomes a real one indeed.
For this reason it is important to select a trusted representative to act on your behalf through the execution of a durable power of attorney for health care along with a living will. With a living will you state your wishes with regard to the use of medical procedures to keep you alive should you become unable to communicate your preferences in real time. The issue of having your life preserved via the use of artificial means when there's no hope of recovery is typically at the core of these documents.
When you look at the facts it is rather startling to see how few Americans have executed these documents. An interactive Harris survey from 2009 found that only 29% of the adults that they polled had a living will in place. Though we emphasize how important these documents are for seniors, they are are also important for younger adults. If you're looking for proof simply recall the highly publicized case of Terri Schiavo, and the protracted legal battle between her husband, who was also her legal guardian, and her parents.
If you are unprepared you could be leaving your family in a very uncomfortable position should life-and-death decisions fall into their laps. You may want to take action and arrange for a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney sooner rather than later to execute these important documents.
Though there are estates that will require some complex plans, the majority of people are going to have to concern themselves with two major issues. The first one is very obvious: you must execute a vehicle or vehicles of asset transfer. The most common way to leave your property to your loved ones is through the utilization of a last will.
Though the last will is the most widely used vehicle of asset transfer, it is not always the best one. When you use a last will your estate must pass through the process of probate, which can be lengthy, expensive, and public. Many people choose to avoid probate for these reasons, and the most common way of doing so is through the creation of a revocable living trust.
With these trusts you appoint a trustee, which can sometimes be a bank or trust company, who will administer distributions to your beneficiaries after your death in accordance with your wishes. These asset transfers take place outside the process of probate, and the creation of the trust provides some asset protection for your beneficiaries as well.
In addition to facilitating the transfer of assets, the fundamental estate plan will also include an incapacity planning component. You can protect yourself through the execution of a durable financial power of attorney and a durable power of attorney for health care. With these documents you empower representatives of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so due to incapacitation.
These are a couple of the basics, but in the end the best way to truly demystify the process of estate planning is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. This type of communication is invaluable, and you will invariably feel a weight lifted off your shoulders when you exit your attorney's office with a solid estate planning strategy having been decided upon.
The field of estate planning contains many different legal instruments that most people have never heard of, so it can be kind of confusing when you start to do your research. On the other hand, there are some estate planning tools that are commonly used that most people have heard of that exist in some variations. As they say, a little bit of knowledge can sometimes lead to misconceptions, so we would like to clear up the difference between some of the basic terms that are often confused.
Everyone has heard of the last will, which is of course the most commonly used vehicle of asset transfer when a person dies. Many individuals are aware of the fact that there is an alternative to the will that prepares assets for eventual distribution while you are still alive. Since the last will is a vehicle of asset transfer, when some people hear the term "living will" they assume that this must be the way that you prepare assets for distribution while you are alive, but this is not the case.
A living trust is the vehicle of asset transfer that is executed while you are still alive. You can actually serve as both the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living so that you retain full control of the resources. But you name secondary beneficiaries and a successor trustee who will distribute the assets to your beneficiaries upon your death or incapacitation in accordance with your wishes.
The living will, on the other hand, is an advance health care directive. It is used to express your preferences with regard to the medical procedures you would accept and those that that you would prefer to deny in the event of your incapacitation. The matter of being kept alive through the utilization of life support systems is at the core of most living wills.
When someone mentions estate planning you probably think of wills and trusts , but it may be useful to look at the broader picture. We are all aware of the need to engage in retirement planning, and of course preparing for the distribution of your remaining assets to your loved ones after you pass away. But what about planning for the unexpected while you are still living?
Everyone wants to live a long and robust life, and indeed lifespans are expanding and people are living longer than ever. The fact is that the "oldest old," people 85 years old and older, are the fastest-growing segment of American society. So when you examine the data, it is becoming increasingly likely that you will live into your mid-80s and beyond. Though on the surface this can seem like a purely positive development, the reality is that incapacity is very common among people who reach such an advanced age and it must be planned for in advance.
To make sure that all of your bases are covered from a medical perspective estate planning attorneys will generally recommend the execution of advance directives. The two advance directives that are most widely utilized are the living will and the health care proxy. When you draw up a living will you instruct your physician as to your preferences with regard to potential medical procedures. The issue of whether or not you would want to be kept alive on artificial life support systems if your condition was deemed terminal is generally at the core of these documents.
A health care proxy is executed to name someone who can act as your agent and make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so due to incapacitation. Generally, medical professionals prefer to deal with the health care proxy, so a family member or close friend is making the final call, but if the proxy cannot be found, the physician can make the decision based upon the preferences expressed in your living will.
An integral part of your estate plan is creating documents that express your end of life decisions concerning healthcare. You never know exactly how the latter stages of your life will be spent so it is important to make sure that you are prepared for whatever fate may throw your way.
As medical science makes continual advances patients' lives can be extended through artificial means for long periods of time. The implications of this can be controversial. Some have strong opinions on the subject, which could be drastically different than your own opinions. To make sure that your personal preferences are honored in cases when you are unable to express yourself you can include advance health care directives in your estate plan. Two that are widely utilized are the living will and the durable medical power of attorney. In the living will you state your specific preferences. In the medical power of attorney you authorize your agent to make health care decisions in your behalf in the event you are incapacitated.
There are provisions contained in the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that make it illegal for health care professionals to divulge any personal patient information without the patient's express consent. It is not recommended that you wait until you are admitted in a facility to sign an authorization because you may be unconscious or incapacitated. For this reason your estate plan should also contain an authorization that complies with the requirements of HIPAA. If you have had your directives created over the last several years they may already contain a universal HIPAA authorization. But if your estate plan was drafted prior to 2004 or if it does not include any of the documents discussed it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a competent estate planning attorney to review your directives.
While no one likes to think about a time when they're no longer around, we all secretly wonder the same things: Will my spouse have enough to live on when I'm not there? Will I be able to leave a legacy for my children? Will the family home stay in the family, or will it have to be sold to pay off creditors and taxes? This is why estate planning is important and necessary.
Estate planning is simply a way to protect your assets and your loved ones by creating legally valid documents that address a variety of concerns. Do you have a child that has special needs? Then a special needs trust might be the solution for you. This type of trust allows you to provide for a disabled or incapacitated dependent without affecting their eligibility for government-assistance programs. This trust can also be a component of a larger family trust, often called a Living Trust, that shields your assets from probate, minimizes taxes and even provides a way to give your heirs incentives for going to college, getting a job and similar personal growth accomplishments.
A good estate plan will also include a Powers of Attorney which are documents designed to designate someone to step in and speak on your behalf in financial and medical matters. In addition, you should have Advance Directives (a living will and health care power of attorney) that tells your healthcare providers how to handle life support and resuscitation matters.
In a nutshell, your estate plan is something you really can't do without and it's important that you have all of the key essentials. Hire an estate planning attorney! Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. has experienced estate planning lawyers that you can trust.