The Importance of End of Life Planning

   With an aging Baby Boomer population in the United States. The concept of End of Life Planning has quickly become a necessary and important factor toward providing families peace at mind at the time of death for their loved ones. There are many steps a family can take with their loved one to prepare for their final goodbyes.

   Choosing a Power of Attorney (POA) for your loved one is a necessary End of Life Planning step. A POA is a legally binding agreement that provides a person of your choosing legal authority to make estate and financial decisions on your behalf. Only a maximum of two people, 18 years or older, can be given POA status. They must be trusted to act in your best interest. To grant POA, the individual must be in a fully coherent state. POA is limited in its power. It only allows someone to handle financial and estate matters outlined by you, for example paying your bills or selling a piece of property. POA is only effective when you have the mental capacity to act. In the situation where you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself a POA is no longer effective. However, a Durable Power Attorney (DPOA) gives an individual the authority to make decisions on your behalf, in the situation where you are incapacitated. An individual can have both POA and DPOA status for their loved one.

   There are two kinds of DPOA. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, which allows an individual to make financial decisions if you become incapacitated and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, which authorizes an individual of your choosing to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. One important benefit of appointing both a POA and DPOA is that it allows you to choose who will make decisions for you if there is a situation where you are incapacitated and unable to make financial or estate decisions for yourself. Both a POA and DPOA play a necessary role towards providing not only financial and estate security but also healthcare security for our loved ones.

   Along with appointing both a POA and DPOA for your loved one, drafting a living will is another important End of Life Planning step. A Living Will is a written and legally binding document that outlines all the medical treatments that you would like and not like to be done to keep you alive. It’s important discuss with your family, friends, and doctor about your end of life wishes and a Living Will is perfect way to document your end of life care. Five Wishes is the one of the most widely used Advanced Directive/ Living Will in the United States. This document allows individuals to choose: their health care power of attorney, the type of medical treatments the would like or not like, the level of comfort care they would like, how they would like to be treated when they are about to reach their end, and how their loved ones will remember them (funeral wise). Bound in a single document, Five Wishes provides families peace at mind and the assurance that your loved one’s final wishes are preserved.

   Appointing both a POA and DPOA, and drafting a Living Will (Five Wishes) are important End of Life Planning steps to take to prepare for the inevitable death of any loved one. By planning ahead, you can get the medical care that you want, while avoiding any superfluous suffering. Planning ahead helps to relieve your loved ones with the burden of making tough decisions in moments of crisis or grief.

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