When we think of “estate planning,” we often think of death and dying and things you take care of later in life. However, estate planning involves not only death-time planning, but also lifetime planning for incapacity or disability.
When our clients come to us to discuss estate planning, we often ask them if they have college-aged or unmarried children. If so, we strongly urge them to have documents prepared that will allow the parents to act like “MOM AND DAD” in the event of an emergency situation, disability or other incapacity—whether temporary or permanent.
To accomplish these goals we recommend the following documents for you and your adult children:
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney – This is the document that states who is to take care of your FINANCES if you become disabled or incapacitated, whether it is short term or long term. Without this document, the Judge will decide who will step in to take care of your finances on your behalf. The Judge will also dictate what that person may or may not do. It will be out of your hands.
Medical Power of Attorney – This is the document that states who is to take care of your MEDICAL DECISIONS if you become disabled or incapacitated, whether short term or long term. Without this document, the Judge will decide who will step in to make any and all medical decision on your behalf. The Judge will also decide what medical procedures are necessary, and which are not. It will be out of your hands.
HIPAA Authorization – This document will allow people YOU CHOOSE to have access to your medical records if you are not able to give that consent on your own because you are disabled or incapacitated. Without this document, the Judge will decide who gets the information and what they can do with the information. It will be out of your hands.
Advance Directive to Physicians (“Living Will”) – This is the document that states what life sustaining treatments you want. In other words, do you want them to “pull the plug” if you are in a vegetative state. If you sign this document you are making the decision for yourself. You are not relying on the Judge to either make this decision on your behalf or to decide who makes the decision on your behalf. It will be out of your hands.
The bottom line is “TAKE CONTROL” over these very important decisions. Don’t leave it in the hands of the Judge or even worse, in the hands of someone you would never want to make these decisions on your behalf.
Call our office at 214.559.7202 for a free consultation to discuss putting in place these documents to protect your child.