A friend of mine recently shared a story about what happened to her family, and it made me realize that it's not just enough to have estate planning documents. My friend was the Power of Attorney agent for her mother.
Her mother was remarried, and the gentleman had actually raised her, and she considered him her father. When mom started to have issues and needed decisions to be made on her behalf, the hospital asked for the documents, and unfortunately the daughter did not have them in her possession.
The doctor and hospital continued to pressure the daughter to submit the Powers of Attorney immediately, in case something went wrong. The hospital offered to just have mom do new estate planning documents, particularly her Healthcare Power of Attorney, and Living Will. Rather than have to drive back to the house and try to find them, the daughter said to her mom …."Go ahead and do a new Healthcare Power of Attorney." When the nurse asked who she would like as the Power of Attorney, the daughter chimed in and said "Mom, why don't you have dad and me."
The mom immediately said "No! You are always my Power of Attorney and I want you to make decisions for me." It was a very uncomfortable and awkward moment for the daughter because she could tell that her step-dad, whom she called her dad, was very upset and didn't understand why mom didn't trust him.
We spend a lot of time explaining the importance of having documentation in place, but rarely do we take the time to really emphasize the importance of getting those documents to the appropriate people.
We at Bellomo & Associates encourage our clients to take a copy of their Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will immediately to their doctors, and also to have it put in their charts at the hospitals.
We always provide extra copies of these documents so the children can have them as well. We try to explain the importance, and certainly will re-emphasize this in the future based upon my friend’s story.
It is not just enough to have the documents, but make sure you have them where you need them and your family members can find them so that you can avoid any undue heartache. Join us for an upcoming workshop to get your estate planning started!