Imagine this. You get sick and need someone to care for you, because you’ve become incapacitated. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the meaning of Incapacitated is, “deprived of capacity or natural power: made incapable of or unfit for normal functioning.” I know, it sounds rather scary and serious, even daunting. What would be even more frightening, is if this were to happen and you hadn’t any legal documentation, to say ‘Who’ you would want to make Medical decisions for you. As a result, the law in your state would appoint someone on your behalf. It could go something like Spouse (if, married); Adult child(ren); Parent(s); Adult sibling(s); etc. Unfortunately, this responsibility could go to an individual that you’re not communicating with or may not even like! This is the reason a Healthcare Power of Attorney is crucial and number one on the list of ‘5 Legal Documents for Caregivers’. Therefore, the decision isn’t left to those who are not chosen by the Patient. *(Note: Attending Physicians are not qualified to be one.)*
The point in sharing such important information is not to bring panic. Quite the contrary, it’s for the purposes of ‘Awareness’. If you are a Caregiver or the Recipient of Care (receiving care due to an illness and/or injury), knowing about these 5 legal documents can be beneficial for your situation. So second on the list is a HIPAA Representative. This would grant the Caregiver access to the Patient’s insurance and medical information. However, it is ONLY when the Patient cannot communicate on their own. So it’s for a limited time-frame, when and if, applicable. It’s especially essential, if the Caregiver and Patient are not Blood relatives and are of no relation.
Now, let’s talk about a Living Will (a.k.a an ‘Advance Directive’) and third on the list. This is Detailed data about ‘end-of-life’ care for an individual (Patient) and effective during terminal situations and/or when Patient cannot make their own decisions. Otherwise, treatments will be used to keep the Patient alive, even if it goes against their wishes. *(Note: State Laws are different in each State, so please check the Specifics in yours.)*
So, we’re down to number four on the ‘5 Important Legal Docs for Caregivers’. Hopefully, if you haven’t already bookmarked this blog, you’ve kept track and have written down this material for future reference. And up next, is a Durable Power of Attorney. It gives an individual (Caregiver) permission, to make financial decisions on behalf of Patient, outside of just health and Medical care. Such an individual (Caregiver) has access to finance and account information, as well as the authority to make decisions on the Patient’s behalf. Further, such person would have the capability to maintain Patient’s household, their child/children’s care, Patient’s bills, et cetera.
Then last and fifth, is a Last Will and Testament or universally called, a ‘Will’. This is a document that states a person’s Final wishes for ALL of their real estate; assets; personal property; et cetera. It lists an ‘Executor’ (an individual who carries out the will) a ‘Guardian’, if applicable (for children under the age of 18 years old). Otherwise, the court in your State will make the final determination. Also, a ‘Will’ can be updated or modified by the Patient, at any time.
If you are a Caregiver or in need of basic documents for Care Recipients, hopefully you received a bit of clarity today. Moreover, if you would like to go beyond reading this blog post, check out araglegal.com for legal services, as well as their DIY documents for Caregivers.
(Source: ARAG North America, INC./araglegal.com)