Both my husband and I have already lost one parent each. As they age, our remaining parents experience occasional health crises.My father-in-law has been in and out of hospitals and convalescent centers several times this year. He’s home now and stable, but has full time assistance and doesn’t drive anymore.
If anyone asks, we say he’s fine; but it’s really a new normal. The old lifestyle is gone.
During this last episode my husband received a call from a social worker. Did he have a medical power of attorney (POA)? The answer was no. But it made us think about what we should do or say to his sibling and father.
I found out there are several legal documents to consider putting in place in case they are needed in the future.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney gives the named individual(s) the ability to manage your finances. It can be provisioned so it doesn’t take effect unless the person is declared incapacitated by medical professionals. It can also have limits on authority spelled out. Otherwise, a general POA gives legal rights to make all financial decisions.
This form can be easily executed by completing it and signing in front of a notary public and witnesses. You’ll want to make sure it is durable which means it doesn’t become invalid if the person becomes mentally incapacitated.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
This is also called a medical power of attorney and is often included in advanced directives. It gives your designee the ability to make medical decisions in the event you are no longer able to do so.
Normally, these decisions would fall to the next of kin, but sometimes you want someone else. Also, it can be difficult to run every decision through a group of adult children who may not even be in the area.
A living will is often thought of interchangeably with health care directives. Actually it is one document in health care directives which details the types of treatment and measures a person wants performed to save their life. Common items people do not want used include ventilators, tube feedings and resuscitation.
It would be used when you are no longer able to give direction to your health care providers.
The social worker did us a favor with a wake-up call that it’s time to discuss these types of documents as well as other important details (such as where to find account information, etc.). Being prepared can make the next medical crises a little less stressful.