The Dreaded Paperwork
Unfortunately everyone has to pay attention to the medical miasma paperwork monster. You have to take care of it so that you and your loved one don’t get distracted by it. Tame it right from the start and it won’t become ferocious.
The most important forms that you need to start with are listed below. Do a little bit every day. We won’t go into great detail about these forms. Several very good books are out there, including Last Rights by Pat Cochran, or the Instant Caregiver Kit have forms that you can copy right out of the book.
For now you should look to include most of the following in your paperwork arsenal:
Power Of Attorney
Durable POA – remains in effect after individual is no longer competent
Durable POA for Health Care
Living Trust – hold title to assets
Last Will and Testament
Don’t stress over this list. Take small steps to get it organized.
Of much importance lately has been the topic of living wills.
A Living Will is a legal document used to specify the health care you would like to receive under certain circumstances. A Living Will does not do the same thing as a Last Will and Testament and does not take its place.
A very good document (and website) that can help you to get started with this is: The Five Wishes.
Complete estate plans include both a Will and a Living Will. Confusion is created by using the word “Will” in “Living Will,” and for that reason many states now use the term “Health Care Directive” or “Advanced Health Care Directive” as more descriptive terms to use for this document.
Get help from your family, your lawyer or a government agency – the office for the aging. If you are in an urban area and can access the services of an elder law attorney, this is your best bet.
What is elder law? It addresses the needs, wants, goals and fears of people over the age of 65. Among other things, it involves the Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, Last Will and Testament and Health Care Trust. Most lawyers have a working knowledge of these documents, and of course, normal legal issues apply to older people, but elder law attorneys bring a more detailed understanding of how all these documents fit together in planning for the client’s gradual loss of ability. They also know details of Medicare and Medicaid coverage and how these relate to nursing homes and long-term care.