Two Things Everyone Should Have In Place
Advanced Health Care Directive:
Most people don’t like to think about directing their finances or managing their health care if they suddenly became unable to do so on their own. Planning for not only your health, but your finances as well can eliminate a lot of trouble for loved ones if a tragic circumstance were to take place.
An Advanced Health Care Directive is a document giving specific written instructions about your health care (what you want and do not want done) should you be unable to do so yourself. These instructions are to be carried out by whatever “health care agent” you appoint- a spouse, a family member, etc…someone that you trust.
By putting Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) in place, you are able give instructions about your medical care should you be unable to make those decisions yourself. This is not just strictly for elderly or terminally ill patients. Once you turn eighteen it is important to take precaution and have someone appointed to assist you and make sure your health concerns are addressed.
Why this is important:
Without your agent relaying your written instructions, your actual wishes will be unknown. Your spouse, friend, or loved one will be unable to make a decision on your behalf without this document, and you could continue to be hospitalized receiving treatments that you may not even want. Taking care of this aspect of your life will protect your well-being in addition to giving your loved ones piece of mind during a difficult time.
Creating an AHCD is actually quite easy to do- it can be short and simple statements about the type of care you will want/not want, signed you and the agent you appoint. There are fill-in-the-blank forms available on many health care sites as well to make this even easier for you.
Power of Attorney
Similar to electing someone to manage your future health care, it is important to appoint a person (potentially the same person- your spouse, or a family member) to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so because of an accident, sickness, etc.
This trusted person, often called the “attorney in fact” will be legally permitted to take care of your affairs through Power of Attorney. This can be something as simple as organizing your mail and paying bills to managing your investments and filing your tax returns.
This is a good idea for literally everyone, in particular anyone with declining health. It is up to you how much responsibility you give to that person, and it can be taken care of with a similar fill-in-the blanks form.
Why this is important:
Without the proper documentation to act on your behalf, your finances cannot be taken care of, allowing payments, bills, rents, etc. to accumulate.
Being married doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t need Power of Attorney. Your spouse will have no legal authority to access and utilize accounts in your name or property belonging to you without this documentation.
You will want to be sure to have two separate accounts: one that addresses your health care issues and one to take care of your finances. You should also keep these documents in an easily accessible place.
The future is unpredictable- you don’t want to leave your spouse or loved ones in situation where they can’t help and protect you because of the unexpected. The best thing you can do is plan ahead.