As my parents age, I am starting to think more about their future. I want to help them enjoy the best quality of life as they grow older. To do so, I know I will have to work with their attorney on planning.
What legal documents should I have as a caregiver so I can make decisions on my parents’ behalf?
Jessica in Holland, MI
Legal Documents for Caregivers
It’s great that you are preparing for your parents’ future. Many families wait until a crisis occurs before sorting out their loved one’s preferences. Not only can this make the process more stressful, but it can also affect a family’s ability to properly care for their loved ones. By preparing legal documents in advance, you can help prevent your family from having to make important decisions during stressful times. Here are 5 legal documents family caregivers should have.
5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have
- Living will: A living will, also referred to as an advance health care directive, is a document that allows people to record their wishes for end-of-life care. This document will be helpful if your parents become incapacitated and can’t make decisions for themselves. Although Michigan state laws do not consider living wills legally binding, having these documents is a great way to ensure their end-of-life preferences are met.
- Durable power of attorney for finances: A power of attorney is a person authorized to manage a person’s finances if they become incapacitated. A power of attorney has access to bank accounts, properties, and other assets. This document is helpful if you need to help your mom or dad pay bills or make important decisions about their finances.
- Health care proxy: A health care proxy, also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care, is a document that authorizes someone to make health care decisions on another’s behalf. This document goes into effect only if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. A health care proxy includes decisions regarding health care providers and medical treatments. Proxies can even refuse treatments.
- Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders: DNR orders inform medical providers not to perform CPR if a patient’s heart stops beating. In Michigan, DNR orders are only valid when the person is home or at an assisted living community. If your mom or dad doesn’t want to be revived, their wishes should be documented in a DNR order.
- HIPAA authorization form: A HIPAA authorization form is another document that can be extremely useful to caregivers. While HIPAA rules usually allow medical professionals to give information to caregivers, obstacles still arise. A HIPAA authorization can prevent unnecessary complications and provide you with access to your loved one’s medical information.
Preparing Legal Documents
Having legal documents prepared in advance is one of the best ways to ensure you meet your parents’ wishes. At Heritage, we always recommend you seek advice from an elder law attorney when creating legal documents. They can help you understand state laws, review your documents, and walk you through the process of verifying that they will hold up in court.
I hope this encourages you and your parents to start preparing legal documents!
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Heritage Senior Communities provides high quality care for seniors across Michigan. Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, for example, offers personalized support with daily meals, laundry, and housekeeping. Contact us today to schedule a tour.