When you start to research the options you have for senior living, it’s also a good time to go over – or create if you haven’t yet – two different, yet important, legal documents related to both senior care and end of life care. These documents include:
- A power of attorney
- Advanced directive (living will)
Here, you can learn more about the differences between these two documents, as well as the importance of each.
The Power of Attorney Documents
The power of attorney is a type of legal document that’s assigned by you, who is called the “principal,” to an “attorney-in-fact,” which is known as the agent or the proxy. This provides the individual with the legal ability to make decisions if you become incapacitated in any way. It’s important for the person who acts as the attorney-in-fact be trustworthy and act in good faith on your behalf at all times.
Even though there are some general guidelines for agent designation, certain laws related to the power of attorney are different from one state to another, which is why it is a good idea to talk with an attorney before signing the power of attorney document. If you are residing in more than one state during the year, or if you have plans to go to another state, you need to have these documents prepared for both states where you live.
After the power of attorney document is created, the principal will determine the total amount of power that’s granted to the attorney-in-fact. You can decide to give the agent the power to only handle a single issue, which is called a specific power of attorney, or they can be given authorization to take care of all the principal’s financial and personal affairs, which is known as the general power of attorney.
Some specific types of power of attorney documents include the following:
- The special power of attorney document
- The durable power of attorney document for finances
- A durable health care power of attorney document
It’s required for the attorney-in-fact to maintain precise records of all transactions that are made on the behalf of the principal.
Advanced Directive Documents (Living Will)
This is a type of written document that helps guide the healthcare choices made by caregivers and doctors if a person becomes seriously injured, is terminally ill, has entered the final stages of dementia, is close to the end of their life, or in a coma. There are various forms and laws required in each state to create this legal document, and there are some that may dictate a signature from a notary or a witness; however, advance directives all need to be put in writing.
When you are creating a living will document, it can be as specific or general as you want, but usually more specificity is beneficial for your doctors and your family or care decision makers. To begin with, think about where you stand on a scale of one to five. For example, one would be to let you die without any intervention and a five would be to ensure no one gives up on you.
Always be Prepared for What is Unknown
It’s important for seniors to regularly review their advance directive and power of attorney documents from time-to-time to ensure they are still indicative of what they want to happen. It’s also a good idea to have an attorney provide assistance if you ever want to update or add an amendment to the power of attorney.
To ensure there are no issues when the time arrives, it’s a good idea to share all these documents with doctors and other healthcare providers to have on file ahead of an issue. Keep in mind, by preparing these documents now, you can save your family quite a bit of stress in the future. To learn more about this process in Arizona, contact the Dana Law Group at 1-800-381-8132 today.