Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Dennis Sullivan & Associates

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How to Approach an Elder Loved One When Family Caregiving Is No Longer Enough

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Apr 19, 2019

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Today, the vast majority of elder care services provided to tens of millions of American seniors are performed by close family members. It is hard work that often involves a myriad of sacrifices. Although we do not say it enough, family caregivers are truly unsung heroes.  

Sadly, there usually comes a time when even the most dedicated family caregivers are no longer able to provide the best level of care for their aging loved ones. Whether due to illnesses, like Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating injury, or as a result of aging, the demands of senior care may eventually surpass a family’s capacity to give.

This may be when it is time for outside assistance. Unfortunately, the transition can be difficult, especially for the older adult and the current caregiver. It is important for the entire family, however, to see the forest from the trees and maintain perspective. What is best for the elder adult should override all other considerations. Let us share several tips with you about how to break the news that a different form of caregiving is necessary.

Be Understanding.

The uncertainty of change can cause confusion and friction regardless of age. It is important to understand this about seniors, and empathize with them. If they are resistant, realize that there are likely complex emotions at play, such as fear, anger and  abandonment. It is also reasonable considering they are vulnerable and transitioning away from family and into the care of strangers.

Explain Why It Is Necessary.

Explain the benefits of outside care, and that accepting it will not just be good for them, but for the whole family. Explain that you both will need to compromise on some things. Do not make quick decisions and ask for their input on caregiving solutions.

 Do Not Take it Personally.

 It is easier said than done, but when an elder person lashes out, try not to react. Showing patience, focusing on the big picture, and picking your battles can help both of you feel in control and manage the stress for all involved as you guide them forward.

 Decide Together.

 No ultimatums are needed. Set up care options to address an aging parent’s needs, and allow them to test the waters in this new experience. Create options for caregiving when you can and ask them for feedback. Explore the benefits and drawbacks together.

 Finally, do not wait to contact an experienced elder care attorney for assistance. Attorneys in firms like ours are specially trained to be able to help families navigate these waters. Do not wait to ask us your questions and let us serve as a valuable resource for you in virtually all aspects of transitioning beyond family care.

Tags: in-home care, elder care journey, elder care, family, caregiver, care costs

Understanding the Correlation Between Dementia and Elder Abuse

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Apr 09, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.April1Nearly every American family has been touched in some way by dementia, especially in its most common form of Alzheimer’s Disease. It cuts across every social and economic demographic, and currently affects more than five million Americans. What you may not know, however, is that dementia is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and has no known cure.

Unfortunately, recent research has revealed that there is an unsettling correlation between dementia and elder abuse. Elder abuse is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.'' It can include physical, emotional, or sexual harm, along with neglect and financial exploitation.

Similar to other types of abuse, victims may become confused, terrified and even embarrassed of the crime perpetrated against them. Seniors especially may often fear retaliation, either in the form of physical abuse, neglect, or isolation. This may cause them to attempt to keep their abusers from getting in trouble, which can be a particular problem when family members behave abusively.

Reports now show that there is an increased correlation between dementia and elder abuse. A few of the reasons why are that seniors with dementia are vulnerable because of impaired memory, communication skills, and judgment. They are also less likely to report abuse, and might not even be aware that abuse is happening. According to the University of California, Irvine Center on Elder Abuse and Neglect, nearly one in two aging adults with dementia has experienced some type of abuse.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to stop this cycle. It is important to know what to be on the lookout for when it comes to your loved ones. Let us present a few of the steps we share with our friends, family, and community on this critical topic.

 1. Know Your Rights. Every state has resources to help stop elder abuse and our state is no exception. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website, “ Elder Abuse reports can be filed 24 hours a day either online or by phone at (800) 922-2275”. We encourage you to learn more on this website or ask us for more information, especially if you are concerned that an elder loved one with dementia is suffering from abuse.

2. Recognize the Warning Signs. Unexplained injuries, bedsores, malnutrition, and dehydration are just a few of the telltale signs. Others may include suspicious caregiver behavior, and sudden adverse changes to an older person’s financial resources.

 3. Report, Report, Report. One of the most effective ways to combat elder abuse is to report it to agencies and authorities who can do something about it. Studies routinely show that elder abuse is chronically under-reported. Again, check out the website we referenced above for more information.

4. Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney creates the legal authority for a trusted family member or confidant to act on a senior’s behalf, it can even work when the senior is unable to make his or her decisions. This legal document needs to be obtained proactively and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you craft one that is right for your specific situation.

 We encourage you to ask us your questions. Whether you are concerned about how to manage a dementia diagnosis or are worried about the potential of elder abuse in the future, we want to help answer your questions. For more information on protecting yourself or a family member, attend a free, informational seminar. 

Tags: Elder Law, durable power of attorney, elder care, incapacity, elder abuse

Understanding Ways to Pay for Long-Term Care Using VA Pension Benefits

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Mar 26, 2019

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When we work with seniors and their loved ones, one of our primary goals is that they are able to find and pay for good long-term care. Unfortunately, there may come a time when the senior is no longer able to care for him or herself. While the preference of both the senior and his or her family may be for the care to be provided within the home, this may be impractical for a number of reasons that include, but are not limited to, the cost involved for such care and the needs of the senior.

 In these instances, the senior and the family may need to turn to long-term care outside the home. A number of long-term care options exist to assist Older Americans meet their long-term care needs. These can include independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing homes. In each of these facilities, the senior can receive a number of different services based on his or her care needs and the services the facility provides.

It can be hard for families to afford the cost of care in a long-term care setting. These costs need to be paid, in addition to the household bills where the community spouse may be living at the time and still need to support him or herself. Often, without planning to cover these costs of care, the senior’s assets may be quickly depleted to cover the monthly bill for the long-term care facility. To begin to understand how much long-term care may cost in our state you can look at the Genworth Cost of Long-Term Care Study.

There are government benefits programs that may be able to help the senior and his or her family afford the high cost of long-term care. These programs are based on need and have certain tests based on a variety of thresholds that are health, income, and asset based that the senior must meet to qualify.

 One such program is the VA Pension program. Through the Department of Veterans Affairs, a veteran with qualifying military service and his or her dependent, such as a spouse, may be able to qualify for this monthly, tax-free benefit. This benefit is not tied to disability or service-connected injury in any way. The veteran must have at least ninety days of active duty of which one day of this service was during wartime according to the Department of Veterans Affairs Eligible Wartime Periods.

The Department of Veterans Affairs changed the rules for qualification on October 18, 2018.  One of the things the new rules did was establish a limit for the countable assets for the veteran, or the claimant, and his or her spouse. Under these rules, the claimant and his or her spouse cannot have more than a combined $126,240 in the year 2019. This amount is subject to change annually and expected to increase by the same percentage as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security benefits.

Similar to our state’s Medicaid program, there are certain assets that are exempt from this calculation. For example, the veteran’s primary residence is not counted as long as it does not exceed two acres in size, unless the additional acreage is not marketable.

For more information, you can attend our workshop to learn more where we explore what options are available to you and your family as you proceed along the Eldercare Journey. 

Tags: veterans benefits, wartime veteran, Veteran, Estate Planning Recommendations

Estate Planning Considerations For Seniors This Tax Season

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Mar 08, 2019

The April 15th deadline to file taxes is fast approaching. As a senior, you may be aware of the steps you need to take to file your taxes as well as most of the information you need to gather and prepare. You may not know, however, that estate planning also plays an important role when it comes to your taxes. To help you be as prepared as possible, let us share a few key estate planning considerations that will guide you through this year’s tax season as a senior.

 First, did you know that that uncompensated gift transfers can penalize you in the future, specifically as it relates to long-term care planning? Any amount of money transferred within a sixty month window prior to needing care without adequate compensation can disqualify you for public benefits. While planning to leave monetary gifts to close friends or loved ones can also help you avoid transferring money at death through the estate planning process, do not act alone. Talk to your estate planning attorney about when lifetime gifting may be right for you.

 You can make gifts of money to your loved ones during your life instead of waiting until the end of your life. When you think about your legacy, however, and leaving money to your loved ones be cautious of the probate process. Probate is the court process of transferring wealth to your loved ones or intended beneficiaries through your last will and testament at death.

 Unfortunately, if you are transferring a high dollar amount to your loved ones at death through your estate planning, you may unwittingly open yourself up to federal estate tax penalties. Consider the recent case of Aretha Franklin who did not plan for the transfer of her wealth. Whether this was an intentional decision or not, this resulted in her being penalized at a forty percent rate for the amount over the federal estate tax limit. Further complicating this issue, our state is one of the last states to keep a state estate tax as well.

 For most seniors, gifting money may not be the best estate planning option. Children and other loved ones can have problems that you may not know about. For example, we encourage you to consider any incapacity or bankruptcy issues the person may have before committing to gifting that person a significant amount of money. While having the ability to shield this money from federal estate taxes may be appealing, be sure that the person you are gifting the money to is responsible enough to receive the gift. If you are eager to leave money to loved ones within the annual exclusion amount, creating a structured gift program with your attorney is one way to effectively accomplish this.

 Above all, it is important that you reflect on and update your estate planning from time-to-time to make sure the tax laws in your state have not changed. Doing some independent research or checking in with an estate planning attorney can help you stay informed about changes you need to be aware of. Remember, we are here to help guide you through each step and can help you evaluate the best planning options for you and your family. If you are ready to discuss your planning needs, do not wait to sign up for a free educational-workshop

Do not wait to think about the estate planning you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Although tax season can be a great time to get things in order, remember, there is never a “wrong” time to ensure you have the planning you need. Do not wait to contact us with your questions and to schedule your attendance at one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshops.

Tags: Estate Planning, estate tax savings, Massacusetts Estate Tax, taxes

Tips for Protecting Your College Student in a New Semester Through Estate Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 01, 2019

 

Even young people need estate planning

 

Whether your child is just beginning to receive college acceptance letters or is preparing to leave home for the upcoming semester, your child is planning ahead for his or her future. As a parent, protecting your child does not stop when he or she leaves for college. Your role in their life, however, may have changed. Once your child turns 18, he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Accordingly, your ability to help him or her with their finances or medical decisions may be limited. We know this can be a challenging and emotional time, which is why we want to share a few ways to use estate planning to protect your child when they are not with you.

The first step, and perhaps the most important one, is to talk to your child about their planning options. As a parent, it is important to express any concerns you may have about their safety and well-being. Try to remember that your child is now an adult and may be hesitant to allow you access to their bank account or medical records. Talking to them about the importance of creating planning documents, however, and sharing examples of scenarios where you would use your decision-making authority may help make this conversation easier.

After you have had this discussion with your child, we encourage you to think about your goals for your child’s protection and the types of planning documents you need. A durable power of attorney is a document that provides you with the authority to make decisions if a legal or financial situation arises while your child is away at college. This can be for simple matters, for example, if there are issues with your child’s lease or if you would like access to your child’s grades. It is important to keep in mind that if you do not have an established durable power of attorney, your child’s bank, college, or rental company is within their rights to refuse sharing your child’s information with you, even as their parent.

Finally, health care documents are a crucial part to any estate plan, particularly when it comes to your college student. If you do not have HIPAA authorization, for example, or a health care power of attorney set up, medical professionals could refuse to allow you access to your child’s medical records. Designating a health care power of attorney before your child leaves for college can help combat this issue from arising.

College is an exciting time for both you and your child. No matter where your child lives, however, accidents and unexpected situations can arise. By planning ahead and creating planning documents for your child’s protection, you can feel confident handling any circumstance that comes up. If you have any questions or are ready to begin planning, do not wait to contact our office or attend a free seminar to learn more.

 

Tags: living will, Single, New Year's Resolutions, college planning, Estate Planning Recommendations, health, children, doctor, heir, grandchildren, 2019

Did You Know Your Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions Can Protect Your Family?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 21, 2019

New Years Res. Protects Your FamilyMany of us view the New Year as a fresh start. It is a time to reflect back on the things we wish we had prioritized the previous year and create resolutions to accomplish new goals or hold ourselves to a higher standard for the upcoming year.

 While many people create resolutions focusing on exercising more or eating healthier, have you considered making resolutions that can protect your family? We encourage to think about more than just spending more quality time with your family and, instead, going a step further and putting protections in place in the event you experience an accident or sudden illness.

 Do you need help knowing where to get started? Let us share three ways to create an estate plan that can help protect you and your loved ones this New Year.

 

  1. Create a plan for your minor children to keep them protected.

 When it comes to your children, you can never be too prepared or plan too far in advance for their future. Preparing for your minor children’s care in the event of your death is a necessary challenge of being a parent. One way to ensure your children are well taken care of after you are gone is to create a comprehensive estate plan that designates a guardian to care for your children. This should be someone you trust implicitly to care for your minor children and help raise and guide them into adulthood. You may also wish to plan to take care of your children financially by creating a trust and placing funds in it for their behalf. 

  1. Create a plan for yourself in the event of an accident.

As important as it is to plan for your children’s protection, it is equally as important to create a plan that protects you as well. A living will, also known as a healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life medical care wishes. This document helps loved ones and healthcare professionals to make appropriate medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself because of, for example, you experience a serious illness or are in a bad accident. The provisions within a living will do not take effect until you are legally and medically declared unable to competently make medical decisions for yourself.

  1. Create a plan for your legacy.

Creating an estate plan is more than just compiling a series of documents. It is the embodiment of the legacy you wish to leave behind for your loved ones. Creating and sharing your goals and thought process behind making each decision related to your estate plan is a way to share your legacy with your loved ones while you still have the opportunity to do so.

These are just a few of the ways you can help protect your loved ones this year. Do you have other ideas? Do not hesitate to let us know! Your family’s safety and your legacy are very important to us. We encourage you to attend one of our free estate planning seminars to learn more and qualify for a complimentary meeting with an attorney so we can discuss your estate planning related questions.

Tags: Estate Planning, durable power of attorney, living will, massachusetts estate planning strategies, legal guardians, New Year's Resolutions, Estate Planning Recommendations, 2019

5 Questions to Ask When Updating Your Estate Plan in the New Year 2019

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 07, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.Dec1Creating a personalized estate plan may be the single most important thing you can do to make sure your decisions are honored if you become incapacitated or when you pass away. If you do not have an estate plan right now, or it has been years since you reviewed it, the new year may be the right time to ensure you are able to protect yourself and those you love most.

Much of estate planning deals with protecting and distributing property. A Last Will and Testament, for example, provides instructions for how a deceased person’s possessions should be distributed. Similarly, a Revocable Trust can direct the distribution of assets upon one’s death, although it can also manage the creator’s assets while he or she is alive.

There is much more to estate planning than Wills and Trusts, however, and your estate planning attorney can provide plenty of guidance. Let us share five questions to ask not only when you are considering crafting an estate plan but if you are updating an existing plan in the new year.

 

  1. Did you move to a different state? Every state has its own laws governing estate planning. Some features in an existing plan will be unaffected, while some key items may need to be revised. Do not wait to review with an estate planning attorney in your new state to ensure your plans can be fulfilled as you originally wanted them to be.

 

  1. Do any of your beneficiaries have special needs? If a special needs loved one is named in your estate plan, then it is worth exploring ways of specifically providing for them, especially after you are gone. Unfortunately, without planning that contemplates the needs of your disabled loved one, he or she may be at risk of losing valuable government benefits.

 

  1. Do you need to update a power of attorney? A power of attorney document gives someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. The document can be tailored to meet your specific needs, or provide for general decision making authority. Talk to your attorney to ensure there is a durability provision to cover the possibility of your incapacitation.

 

  1. Have you considered advanced healthcare directives? Advanced healthcare directives, including tools such as the living will, are legal documents in which a person specifies what actions are to be taken regarding his or her health if he or she is no longer able to make decisions. You may want to review any existing plans to ensure you have the right person named to make your healthcare decisions.

 

  1. Do you want to change beneficiaries? A marriage, a death in the family, a divorce, or the birth of new child or grandchild, are only a few reasons to update beneficiary designations in estate planning documents. You may also want to add a charity or a cause you care about. The new year is a great time to do so.

 Do not wait to think about the estate planning you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Although the new year can be a great time to get things in order, remember, there is never a “wrong” time to ensure you have the planning you need. Do not wait to contact us with your questions and to schedule your attendance at one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshops.

Tags: asset protection, long term care, Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, HIPAA, durable power of attorney, Health Care, health care proxy, seniors, estate tax, family, New Year's Resolutions, Estate Planning Tip, 2019

Ways You Can Plan for the Rising Costs of Long-Term Care

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Jan 03, 2019

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The New Year is here! For many of us this means creating New Year’s resolutions. Whether your goal is to spend more time improving your health, spending more time with family, or making changes in your job, it can be an exciting time to put a plan in place to create the future you want.

 As you think about the New Year, do not neglect thinking about your estate planning and elder law planning. Although many of the people we meet initially think these things are the same, nothing could be further from the truth. Estate planning contemplates the plan you need to provide for you and your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death. Elder law planning, on the other hand, is planning for a potentially uncertain long-term care future.

 While we do not want you to forget to update your estate planning in the New Year and can help you do so with our Lifetime Protection Program, we want you to think about the elder care needs for you and your aging loved ones. The future is uncertain for all of us. It is important that we plan early and well for what it could hold for us. Unfortunately, long-term care is expensive and these costs continue to rise. Estate planning can be a great start but each of us should create a plan this year that covers a future that includes the need for long-term care.

 Where do you start? What type of plan do you need? Since Medicare will not pay for all of your custodial long-term care needs, how will you access much needed benefits? Let us provide some of the insight that we give our clients and their loved ones as they work with us to create a long-term care plan that can sustain them for the future.

       1. Find out what care costs in your state. Many of the Older Americans and their families                 that we speak with are shocked to learn the costs associated with long-term care.                       Further, they are also surprised to learn that Medicare will not pay for assisted living                   facilities or extended care in the home. Most families cannot afford theses costs on top               of their monthly expenses. We encourage you to not wait to learn the cost of care needs             right here in Massachusetts. You can take a look at the Genworth Costs of Care study to             learn more about costs of care.

  1. Evaluate your current home. Many seniors do not want to leave their homes. Although for most this may not be an option, this can become more of a possibility when the home is modified to consider the needs of the Older Americans. For example, are bathtubs slippery or hard to enter? Are lights easy to turn on and off? Are stairs becoming more difficult to manage? Consider speaking with a contractor who understands the needs of seniors for recommendations on how to make the home more appropriate for aging in place.
  1. Purchase long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of long-term care. From skilled nursing facilities to assisted living facilities to additional help in the home, there are different policies to help cover these expenses. While not all qualify, you may wish to speak with a long-term care insurance planner to determine if there is a plan for you or your loved ones available right now.
  1. Meet with an Elder Law Attorney. Your elder law attorney will be able to help you navigate this long-term maze. Knowing what you need and how to access it, together with the steps to take to access public benefits, are key to successfully planning for long-term care. Your elder law attorney can help you be prepared for your potential needs and how to prepare for the rising costs of long-term care in the future.

There is never a wrong time to start planning for long-term care planning.  In fact, this is why we wrote our book The Seniors and Boomers Guide to Healthcare Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty which you may download by clicking this link. We are here to help you and your loved ones create the planning you need for the future. Do not wait to contact our law office to schedule a meeting with us today.

 

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, Lifetime Protection Program, New Year's Resolutions, caregiver, in home, skillled care, care unit, long term care insurance, care costs

A Married Couple's Asset Protection Journey

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Aug 30, 2018

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At Dennis Sullivan & Associates we were fortunate enough to be able to help a married couple, both teachers, plan for their retirement and estate planning. After being referred to us by an independent financial adviser toward the end of their careers we advised that they may want to attend one of our Free Discovery Workshops on Estate, Trusts, and Asset Protection Planning.

After being impressed with what they learned at the Workshop they scheduled their complimentary meeting to have us review their existing wills, trusts, disability, and healthcare documents. They made it clear that they had long term care insurance that would cover only $100 per day for two years (At the time cost of care at a nursing home was roughly $400 per day). Therefore, they would have had to pay $300 per day had a situation arose in the near term. $300 x 365 = $109,500 annually for two years, a total of $219,000. After the first two years of coverage lapsed, they would be responsible for the entirety of the cost of care payments. If nursing home costs did not rise, at $400 they would be looking at a nursing home bill of $146,000 annually. For comparison, the rates today are in the neighborhood of $18,000 per month and are steadily rising.

Because of the high cost of in home care and a desire to maintain control of their assets and healthcare decisions they had us create for them an updated Revocable Living Trust as well as a new protective trust for their home and long term savings. Having a solid asset protection plan allowed them to decide to avoid paying over $15,000 every year to expand their long term care coverage from $100 to $250 a day, which was short of the $400 a day, cost at the time. They were pleased that this estate plan would protect their home, spouse, and life savings!

Over a decade later they remain clients and members of The Lifetime Protection Program as we help them strategically plan how their trusts and other life and death documents should function to preserve their capital.

As members of the Lifetime Protection Program, this retired couple enjoy many benefits. First, we helped them implement the proper healthcare documents for their children and grandchildren, over the age of 18, to ensure that in the case of an emergency; medical professionals would be able to disclose information to family members. This is a little known secret that you do not want to find out the hard way. [Please see our upcoming workshop schedule to discover more]

With healthcare documents in place, we were able to focus our attention on asset preservation and protection. As with most people that we help they were interested in ways to provide for the surviving spouse and ultimately, maximize the inheritances of their family members. Putting the deed to their home into their protective trust ensured that when their children inherited the property they would receive the step-up in basis as well as protecting the home against nursing home costs down the road. This alone will save their children from paying any long term capital gains if they sell the home at market value. Various gifting strategies, educational savings plans including a 529 account, were additional steps taken to reduce their overall estate tax levied by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An important step taken was to update their Durable Power of Attorney forms to provide maximum security in the event that either one of them lost capacity during their lifetime, and there were assets that were NOT included in their trusts. To discover more about trusts, life and death planning, as well our unique process and services visit DSullivan.com and sign-up for a free discovery session. You and your family will be glad you did for generations to come. This planning could save you and your family countless nightmares, heartache, and a significant amount of money. Click here to attend an upcoming workshop today or call 1-800-964-4295 to register.

Tags: surviving spouse, charitable, donations, transferring, trust, irrevocable trust, Wills, Inheritance, step up basis, care costs, grandchildren

Why Your Children and Grandchildren Should Have Healthcare Documents in Place

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Aug 17, 2018

 

family

First, you may ask, what are the Healthcare Documents that you recommend?

At Dennis Sullivan & Associates we recommend to everyone over the age of 18 (clients, friends, and family members) have appointed people to make health care decisions, and to receive health care information.

This is especially crucial for those who have college students and young adults in their lives. Young adult children and grandchildren, often times headed away to college, need health care decision making documents in place. These documents include an Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information forms in place (HIPAA), and Living Will and Health Care Proxy.

An 18 Year Old Is An Adult!

Once you turn 18, you are legally an adult, and no one has any automatic right to any medical information. Medical professionals are obliged to withhold any and all medical information of yours from anyone who may be requesting information, unless you specifically grant them authority to release the information. Sometimes, young adults will let the doctor know that it is okay to share information with their parents or close relatives, but it may not come up when the young adult sees the doctor. If an 18 year old forgets or is unable to give their consent, medical professionals, by law, are required to withhold the information.

HIPAA

In the unfortunate event where a young adult is unable to give consent due to being unconscious or in a coma the only way for parents to gain this information is if their child has signed off on the Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information form (HIPAA). This allows a parent to get information from a college health center, and speak with the care team.

Health Care Proxy and Living Will

Terry Schiavo is the reason why the importance of a Living Will and Health Care Proxy gained national attention. A Living Will addresses end of life decisions including the permission/request to discontinue life support after an extended period if a person is in a persistent vegetative state. Terry Schiavo did not have a Living Will in place, and thus a decade long legal battle ensued between her husband and parents.

 

A Health Care Proxy designates an Agent that can make Health Care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make the decisions for yourself. Examples of this could include being unconscious, lacking capacity, or being placed in a medically induced coma. A Health Care Proxy/Living Will and is essential because it names agents to make health care decisions if you’re unable to make decisions on your own.

The Health Care Proxy and Living Will give authority to a person (or persons) of your choice to make decisions if you are unable to.

In short, a HIPAA document will allow for those of your choice to be privy to medical records and a Living Will and Health Care Proxy will appoint an agent to be your medical decision maker in the event that you are unable to do so.

If you would like to implement these essential documents, call our office to schedule a consultation. Many of the estate plans we review are death plans. They are designed to solve situations that occur at death, avoiding probate and distributing the estate. While all these objectives are important, there is much more that is needed. One of the most important parts of planning focuses on how documents work while you and your family are living. To learn more about necessary elements of an estate plan, attend a complimentary workshop.

Tags: HIPAA, Health Care, health care proxy, power of attorney, health, children, grandchildren, Skilled Care

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