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Advance Directives: Planning for the Unexpected

Are You Prepared for the Unexpected? Avoid Stress & Cost by Planning AheadAre you and your family prepared for the unexpected? In the event of a sudden illness or injury, advanced directives can save you and your family time, money, and emotional distress.

The three advanced directives everyone should consider are health care proxies, living wills, and powers of attorney, yet these precautions are often overlooked by married couples.

This year I have had the pleasure of working with a married couple who suffered an unforeseen and life-changing event: the wife suffered a debilitating stroke while undergoing a simple medical procedure, and she needed the type of care that is only available in nursing homes.

Unfortunately, the couple had not completed a power of attorney or healthcare proxy while the wife was still competent enough to sign legal documents. As a result, her husband had to contend with costly and emotionally difficult decisions regarding his wife’s care.

He needed to take immediate action to access his wife’s assets, while also making decisions for his wife’s medical care. While this couple was married and shared property, the husband was only able to access the joint bank accounts. He was unable to do anything with any of the real property that they held jointly.

The only way for the husband to obtain Medicaid coverage for his wife’s nursing home care was to be appointed as her guardian. Unfortunately, guardianship proceedings are roughly ten times the cost of setting up a power of attorney, healthcare proxy, or living will. In order to gain guardianship, the husband was required to testify under oath that his wife’s condition was causing him undue emotional suffering.

This type of emotional turmoil and aggravation can be avoided by planning ahead with a trust and estate attorney.

The process starts with a consultation to assess the unique set of circumstances that each client is facing and explain to the client the importance of advanced directives, as part of the estate plan.

Our law practice drafts comprehensive power of attorney, living will, and health care proxy documents. These services generally costs between $1500 and $1600. This is in stark contrast to a guardianship hearing, which typically costs between $10,000 and $20,000.

Be prepared for the unexpected. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss drafting documents that will provide you and your family some peace of mind in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

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