Advocate, Diane Talbert shares her experience with signing up for and utilizing LegalZoom's LifePlan - medical power of attorney.
Do you know what a medical power of attorney is? I just completed mine and it was a little intense.
There were a lot of questions. One was “do you want everything done possible to keep you alive?” That was so hard for me to answer. Of course, I want to live if I can, but do I want to be a vegetable? I am also spiritual and know that a higher power can wake me up at any minute. Would I want the doctors to keep doing procedures on me to keep me alive or is there a time I want them to stop? These are things you can spell out in a power of attorney that have to be followed.
My life is a mess on paper. I have several bank accounts that are paperless. I don’t get statements and don’t know the password to access them online. There are four life insurance policies that I don’t even know who they are with or how much they are worth anymore. They are for other family members and the payments come right out of my account. I have mutual funds, stocks and a 401k, but wouldn’t know how to access them if I had to in a hurry. We will not even discuss real-estate in this article. If some one had to figure out my financial matters with out my help, they would throw their arms up in disgust. They wouldn’t know what I owned or where I keep important papers.
I decided to get my affairs in order with Legalzoom’s LifePlan.
You never want to think about when you can’t make decisions for yourself, but you want to have someone in place that you trust to make these decisions for you. I have had medical issues since I was 5 years old. Now I’m 61. I have been in and out of hospitals because of my health condition and there have been times I have had to get a power of attorney to handle my affairs for me. You don’t have to be an older adult or a caregiver to get this document. This can be someone who signs documents for you, but once that obligation is fulfilled the contract ends. If you become sick and can’t make decisions on your own you can get a legal document, but if you should happen to pass away or become incapacitated this document ends. You have options.
Oh, but you can’t get your doctor to be durable power of attorney because your doctor might have to make the decision to discontinue life support on you. It’s a conflict of interest.
I have an elderly father who is 85 years old. I have a durable power of attorney for him so I can handle all his affairs if something happens to him. But if I only had a single power of attorney it would not cover all those things. Always remember that if a person dies the power of attorney dies at this point the person who oversees your estate will take over if that person has a last will and testament. It can be the exact same person, it just needs to be executed. We will talk about that later. It doesn’t matter which power of attorney you have, just remember that person will always do what is right for you. You can put certain things in your paper that you want carried out on your behalf, like selecting an assisted living home or nursing homes, if that is what you want.
If you don’t have Legalzoom LifePlan, you can get it and create this document to keep in a safe place for when you need it. I never know when I might get sick and must be rushed to the hospital. My family can grab my paperwork at a moment’s notice. Everything is set up with LifePlan. This will eliminate so much stress on my family and friends. The hospital and doctors will need proof that you are the decision maker here. This is now easy for my family to carry out.
I know that one day I might have to move to a senior living community. My family and I have already started discussing durable POAs. I don’t want them to guess what I want for my health and finances when the time comes. The paperwork is done and there were some hard decisions that I had to make, but I know I must not be a burden on my loved ones. Don’t forget to plan for your pet too. If you don’t have a close friend that can take your pet, I have made sure my power of attorney knows what to do with my dog Flappy.
I think it would be a good idea to do a will and a power of attorney together. Lifeplan offers both. It seems like they go hand in hand. The POA protects you during your lifetime and the will protects you after you are no longer here. Just think of it as an ongoing protection of your assets now and the here-after. I have had family members pass without either document. It was a mess.
Your family is already dealing with a loss, but now they are losing their minds sorting out bills, life insurance policies, wills, etc. Just make sure that your documents are up to date and easily available. We have all heard so many times about relatives suing each other over money; don’t let this be you.
Thank you Patient Rising for allowing me to utilize Legal Zoom Life Plan. It is such a valuable tool and has change my life. It was easy to complete this package.
Disclosure: Legalzoom is a supporter of Patients Rising. Members of Patients Rising have, among the benefits of membership, access to either a 3-month trial or an annual subscription to Legalzoom’s LifePlan, both are optional.
Diane Talbert is a blogger, patient advocate and speaker for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. She has been an advocate for this disease for over a decade now. Diane has run support groups in the Maryland, DC and Virginia area, is a volunteer for several organizations and vows to help find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and stop the stigma associated with it. She loves being a wife, mother and grandmother.