Before Disability Strikes, Take Control of Medical and Financial Decisions With The Help of Patient Advocates
It is very likely that you or someone close to you will suffer from a stroke, injury, accident, Alzheimer’s or other debilitating illness that will cause long-term incapacitation. But It can and does happen, and unfortunately, not many of us plan adequately for a lifetime of disability. So, it is always advisable to take end of life decisions with the help of patient advocates when people get old.
In Michigan, current laws dictate that if you become incapacitated, you become subject to Living Probate. Living Probate is when the court assigns a guardian or conservator to do all the things for you that you cannot do for yourself. Frankly, this means that if you cannot make your own decisions or sign your name, a court will do it for you. It is an antiquated system that works slowly, lacks compassion and literally strips people of their right to marry, divorce, buy/sell property and make their own medical and financial decisions.
Fortunately, guardianship/conservatorship can be avoided, as long as you take control before you need it. The best protection against Living Probate is to establish a Durable Power of Attorney. This legal document allows you to delegate financial and medical responsibilities to a trusted person, so if you become disabled the court won’t step in and appoint a guardian or conservator to run your estate.
The patient advocate experts in estate planning at BRMM can draft a Durable Power of Attorney document for you. We recommend everyone over 18 years of age have a Durable Power of Attorney to protect themselves and their loved ones from the hassles of Living Probate in the event of living with a long-term disability.
End of life discussion, decisions and documents
No one wants to talk about it, but most of us will confront difficult medical decisions at the end of our lives. We can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to have conversations about your end-of-life wishes LONG before they are needed. When the time comes to discuss do-not-resuscitate and Hospice care with your loved one’s doctors, there is an ease and comfort knowing you are fulfilling their wishes. Having end of life decisions discussed and decided well before you need them helps remove some anxiety from an emotional situation that is already stressful and sad.
You have probably heard the term “Living Will” as the name of the document used to address life support wishes, but in Michigan our laws require a document called “Patient Advocate.” In it you appoint an individual to make your end-of-life decisions in the event that you cannot make them yourself.
It is important for your Patient Advocate document to be drafted properly and we can help cover all aspects.
Patient Advocate Documents must:
- Cover all possible situations
- Contain up-to-date provisions for recent law changes
- Be written so that it covers you in states where the laws are different
At BRMM and The Center for Elder Law, we are passionate about making sure our clients avoid the strain of end-of-life decisions by setting up Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocates well before they need them. We have seen so many people struggle at difficult times, but with the right legal documents in place beforehand, you can save time, money and mental anguish.