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Planning for the Inevitable | Constitution Corner
You may not know when you’ll end up in a hospital but being prepared is key. Having some “Estate Planning” done before hand could not only save you money, but it could direct the care you get or don’t want. In this episode of Constitution Corner, you’ll learn about two important documents, the Healthcare Power of Attorney and Advanced Directives. Robert Owens will explain why they are so important to your medical rights.
Healthcare Power of Attorney:
- This document assigns the legal right to make healthcare decisions to another person.
- This requires the hospital to obtain written, informed consent from the power of attorney (POA).
- Make sure your POA is intelligent and a fighter.
- Attorney Owens recommends you find a lawyer who specializes in Estate Planning to make sure the wording is correct.
- A legal document specifying the types of treatment you want and don’t want. (You can say “no” to being ventilated, monoclonal antibodies, and remdesivir)
- Many states have their own advance directive forms. Your local Area Agency on Aging can help you locate the right forms. You can find your area agency phone number by calling the Eldercare Locator toll-free at 1-800-677-1116 or by visiting https://eldercare.acl.gov.
- For those in Wisconsin, go here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/forms/advdirectives/adformspoa.htm
- Some states require your advance directive to be witnessed; a few require your signature to be notarized. A notary is a person licensed by the state to witness signatures. You might find a notary at your bank, post office, or local library, or call your insurance agent. Some notaries charge a fee.
- Some states have registries that can store your advance directive for quick access by health care providers, your proxy, and anyone else to whom you have given permission. Private firms also will store your advance directive. There may be a fee for storing your form in a registry. If you store your advance directive in a registry and later make changes, you must replace the original with the updated version in the registry.
- Some people spend a lot of time in more than one state—for example, visiting children and grandchildren. If that’s your situation, consider preparing an advance directive using forms for each state—and keep a copy in each place, too.
- Give copies of your advance directive to your health care proxy and alternate proxy. Give your doctor a copy for your medical records. Tell close family members and friends where you keep a copy. If you have to go to the hospital, give staff there a copy to include in your records. Because you might change your advance directive in the future, it’s a good idea to keep track of who receives a copy.
- Review your advance care planning decisions from time to time—for example, every 10 years, if not more often. You might want to revise your preferences for care if your situation or your health changes. Or, you might want to make adjustments if you receive a serious diagnosis; if you get married, separated, or divorced; if your spouse dies; or if something happens to your proxy or alternate. If your preferences change, you will want to make sure your doctor, proxy, and family know about them.
- You might want to make a card to carry in your wallet indicating that you have an advance directive and where it is kept. Here is an example of the wallet card offered by the American Hospital Association. You might want to print this to fill out and carry with you. A PDF can be found online (PDF, 40 KB).
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