While we recommend planning at all times to always be prepared ahead of time, this certainly provides a reminder for us to stop and take a look at our current situation to make sure that we have at least our basics in place.
Powers of Attorney
Each person should have a financial power of attorney that authorizes another individual to make financial decisions on their behalf in case they are unable. They could be unable because of an illness or an incapacitation or simply just not in town, or maybe they are traveling out of the country.
We cannot not stress the importance of having a financial power of attorney in place to avoid the necessity for a guardianship. We have discussed in detail in other blogs and articles about powers of attorney and guardianships, and we would encourage you to please take a further look at those, and why it would become important to have a financial power of attorney in place.
Medical power of attorney is an essential document that authorizes another individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not capable or able to make those medical decisions for yourself. Although there is a healthcare statute in the state of Pennsylvania that will name the next of kin to be able to make those healthcare decisions in case you cannot, we stress the importance enough of having this document in place to ensure that the people that you want making those decisions can make them without unintended people being named as well.
When you reach the end of life stage is also important that you have in place a living will. If the living will is coupled in one single document with a medical power of attorney, that is also considered an advanced healthcare directive. We recommend having these documents in place to ease the burden of your family. This will save them from having to make those end of life decisions if two qualified physicians put in writing that there is no realistic hope of recovery – that you will always remain end-stage medical or vegetative, comatose, permanently unconscious, or terminally ill.
There is certainly a lot that goes into the medical definition, but plainly stated, it is imperative to decide for yourself how you would like those decisions to be made rather than to put the burden on a loved one to feel like they have to play God or pull the plug on their family member.
Review Your Current Documents, Including Beneficiaries, to Ensure They Meet Your Needs and Desires
We encourage anyone who has planning in place to not assume that it is up to date or that it is what their current wishes are, things change over time. It is also important to review all of your beneficiary designations on accounts, such as life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts, etc. Often, the most overlooked item is reviewing the beneficiary designations of an account, and it is probably the single most important thing that can screw up an estate plan.
Please make it a priority to review your documents to make sure they accurately reflect your wishes. If you have questions or need to make some changes we would be more than happy to see you at one of our workshops to discuss the different documents and how they can assist you and your family. We certainly understand if there is any anxiety or stress that you are experiencing but encourage you to be prepared no matter what, which will give you a sense of comfort and security. If you would like any further information about this topic or to learn more about our firm, please visit us at www.bellomoassociates.com or call the office at 717-845-5390.