Last Will and Testament Planning AheadPlanning ahead with a few basic, affordable legal documents can save a lot of money, time and heartache when a healthcare crisis strikes.  And, the process is much easier than you may think.  After spending most of Saturday traveling to and from the out of state wedding of our very dear friends’ son, we were crunched on Sunday to get ready for the week – cooking ahead the weekly meals, scheduling housecleaning projects, organizing after school transportation to swim practice and Junior Achievement meetings, etc. etc.  Whew. . . we are ready to have a flawless week, right?  Well, maybe. So, I go out to my car bright-eyed and bushy tailed on Monday morning to find that one of the girls left a dome light on in the back seat Saturday night trying to get some homework done to find the battery was dead.  What?! To make a long story short, I got off to work and only lost about an hour, which I can easily make up this evening without much stress because we took the time to plan the week on Sunday.  Had we not done some planning ahead of time, this Monday morning would have been a wreck. You see where I’m going, don’t you?  Planning ahead saves pain, heartache and panic in those unavoidable times where we just don’t have the mental or emotional capacity to take it.  Dealing with a loved one in a health crisis is one of those times.  When we have Advanced Directives in place – Healthcare power of attorney, Financial power of attorney, Living Will, etc. – we have peace of mind in challenging times that require our mind and hearts to be elsewhere. Here are the documents you need to consider putting in place before crisis strikes:

General Durable Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney is a written authorization to act on another person’s behalf in legal and financial matters. The person creating the power of attorney is the “principal” and the person to whom the principal is giving the power is called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” Many of my clients try to get this document off the internet or buy it from an office supply store.  They become my client when they try to use that document for a task that is not authorized by general statutory law and was not included specifically in the power.  That is the drawback of forms that are not customized to the family’s needs and preferences. Without a good, comprehensive general power of attorney, the family may find themselves in Court getting a guardianship over their loved one in order to get the power to act on their behalf.  This expense could have been avoided with a good general power of attorney.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Similar to a general power of attorney, the healthcare power of attorney is focused on healthcare issues. It allows you to designate someone to be your representative, or agent, in the event you are unable to make health care decisions or if you are unable to communicate those decisions to your health care provider.  Again, without a good, comprehensive healthcare power, a guardianship would be needed.

HIPAA Release of Information Authorization

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule gives you important privacy rights and protections with respect to your health information.  While these protections are important, it’s also important that your Healthcare Power of Attorney be permitted access to your health care information and conversations with providers so that person may assist you with your health care decisions. Therefore, a HIPAA release is an essential compliment to any Healthcare Power of Attorney that is often missing from online forms.

Planning Ahead with a Living Will

A Living Will is often times confused with a Will, but it is very different. A Living Will deals only with end of life decisions.  It is a directive of your wishes to physicians in the event there is no life prolonging treatments that can be administered.  You are able to choose whether you would like artificial life sustaining measures to be taken or whether you decline such efforts. A Living Will is not to be confused with a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order) that is often presented to you when you are admitted to an emergency room.  An elder law professional is able to explain the differences between these two documents and talk you through the ramifications of these important decisions so you can execute the proper documents for you. Most elder law attorneys offer an initial consultation to discuss these documents.  Some elder law attorneys charge for that consultation, but some do not.  There is nothing to lose to sign up for a free consultation with an elder law attorney at Dillman Law Group to talk through these documents.  Pre-planning can save you money and stress later. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who warned us: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” What is keeping you from scheduling a free consultation to discuss legal pre-planning or planning ahead for your loved one?  Give our office a call today to schedule your free consultation at 317-492-9569 or visit our website at for more information.