A Last Will and Testament is direction to a judge administering your probate estate about your wishes to pass the property in your estate after you pass away. It is the estate planning tool with which most people are most familiar, and many people believe that is the only tool they need to worry about getting. While a Will is important, a Will only takes effect on your death and it is generally not enough on its own to constitute a comprehensive estate plan. Specifically, a Will does not adequately account for your long-term care needs or your end-of-life decisions.
The following are some of the additional legal documents that are imperative to ensure that your long-term care needs are met:
Health care power of attorney – Also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is the document that determines who will make decisions regarding your health and medical care if you become incapacitated. You should carefully choose someone who respects and understands your wishes and values regarding health care and will be capable of making decisions in line with your instructions and not based on their own belief system, including whether to place you in a long-term care facility or continue life-sustaining treatments near the end of your life.
Living will – Also known as a Healthcare Directive, a Living Will is a document that contains your wishes for medical care toward the end of your life. For example, you can instruct whether you want to be placed on life support, artificial breathing(???— I think you mean “ventilator support”), have a feeding tube placed, or similar treatments if you have permanently lost consciousness, are in a permanent vegetative state, or have reached the final stage of a serious illness or condition. This is important so that your Healthcare Power of Attorney knows exactly what to instruct in a difficult situation and helps to prevent court intervention on very personal matters and decisions.
Financial Powers of Attorney – These are extremely important legal documents to ensure that your assets, business, and financial affairs will be properly managed in the event you become incapacitated or if you need assistance with your finances because of your circumstances, such as placement in a nursing home or acute medical event. If you are no longer able to manage your finances or business, your designated Attorney-in-Fact under a Durable Financial Power of Attorney can continue making financial decisions for you, file taxes and deal with other government agencies on your behalf, manage or sell your home or other real estate, assist in finding and paying for medical care, and generally step in your shoes to manage your affairs.
In addition to the above long-term care tools, we also draft specialized legal documents to assist you in covering the costs of your long-term care. These documents can be very complex and vary depending on an individual’s situation, though it is important to discuss such documents with an experienced elder law attorney.
An experienced St. Louis elder law attorney can help to ensure you have all of the legal documents in place for your long-term care. If you would like discuss your estate planning needs, call The Elder Care Law Practice, LLC at 314-932-5573 today.