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It’s better to prepare ten years too early than one day too late. It is nev- er too soon to learn about advance care planning. Once you decide to begin it is important to confirm with others that they are willing to accept the roles you may be asking of them.
Advance Care Planning (ACP) has two
goals: to make sure your healthcare wishes are expressed and honored by using advance directives, and to give a gift to your family and loved ones. It provides them with critical informa- tion and confidence needed for future decisions.
ACP is sometimes an ongoing process of conversations between you, your family and loved ones, your healthcare providers, and legal representation. Ultimately, your plan will include the communication and documentation of your values, beliefs, and wishes for future and final healthcare treatments.
ACP includes all types of care you would
or would not want to receive if you are unable
to communicate your choices on your own at that time. Further, the documents can change overtime if your wishes change. Take the time
to be sure others know about the changes and are not surprised in the end causing distress and potential rivalry between surviving loved ones.
Having a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for Medical Care, also known as a Patient Ad- vocate Designation, is part of a great long-term plan. However, when complimented by a Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters they can help avoid many problems for you and your loved ones.
In both the Patient Advocate Designation and the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for finances you (the principal) appoint a person (the agent) to handle matters for you when you can- not. Many attorneys refer to this as appointing a surrogate decision maker. The agent is chosen for the purpose of acting in the best interest of the principal in any decisions and actions taken by the agent.
In the Durable Power of Attorney, you appoint an agent to make decisions and otherwise han- dle financial matters for you. The agent can act when you are mentally incapacitated, but also when you have mental capacity but otherwise need assistance, such as when it is physically difficult for you to make trips to the bank.
The Durable Power of Attorney is effective even after the principal is no longer competent but ends at the principal’s death. The DPOA document can be effective immediately or it can be springing, which allows an agent to act only after the principal has been determined to be
incompetent, most often after assessments by two doctors find the principal incapacitated.
You can define the scope of your agent’s authority in the document, making the agent’s authority very limited or very broad. Be sure to make the wishes expressed in the document made known to health care providers.
The document can allow for gifting of assets or alteration of an estate plan, but only to the extent specifically authorized by the document and only if the actions taken by the agent are
in the principal’s best interests. Having broad powers in the document is very important if Medicaid planning becomes an issue for you. The document can also require accountings by the agent to provide for accountability beyond the fiduciary duty.
In the Patient Advocate Designation, you ap- point an agent to make your medical decisions, as well as physical care and custody decisions, if you cannot make your own care decisions. Under Michigan law, a Patient Advocate Desig- nation cannot make decisions for you until two doctors have determined that you are incapable of participating in the decision making process
• Wills
• Trusts
• Power of Attorney
• Assest Protection Planning
Call for a free initial consultation*.
(269) 968-1101
*Except Asset Protection Planning
• Probate
• Trust Administration
• Guardianships / Conservatorships
Author of “Ask the Attorney” Offices in Battle Creek & Portage
Stacey Lott Attorney at Law Estate Planning and Elder Law
269.963.8222 | 130 East Columbia Avenue, Battle Creek, MI 49015
Helping Seniors and Their Families

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