Georgia's Trusted Healthcare
& Medical Provider Attorneys

The Most Important Lists You Need To Write Today  

Medication List Special Needs Trusts Jeyaram & AssociatesMost of us write lists – To Do Lists, Bucket Lists, Christmas Lists, Grocery Lists, Wish Lists, etc. But the most important lists we need to write are the ones that could be life-saving for our differently abled children.

Medications & Healthcare Providers Lists

Many of us are on auto pilot and can recite our child’s medication list and dosage by heart. However, if something were to happen to us, it’s important for someone else to be able to jump in and continue our child’s medications.

With many of our differently abled children, these medications are critical to their overall health – and in some cases – they could mean a matter of life or death. As a result, Medication Lists should include the name of the medications, dosage, frequency, purpose of the medication, how the medications are administered, where the medications are located (ex. fridge), and the name of the pharmacy for each medication.

Another list we need to make is a list of all of our child’s medical providers. The Medical Providers List should include our child’s primary care physician, specialists, pharmacists and therapists. At minimum, this list should include their names, locations and phone numbers. In addition, this list should include your child’s insurance ID number(s) and date of birth.

Add Special Notes

As part of our lists, I also recommend including the date last seen by each of the health care providers, as well as any other special notes or information. For example, we have a great relationship with one of our pharmacists, and she is well versed in our son’s medical history.

We’ve included a note in our Medical Provider List that she be contacted for anything related to our son’s medicines. Further, on our son’s Medication List, we’ve noted that we hide his nighttime medicine in applesauce.

You’ve Probably Already Created It

Many of us have already created these lists for things like Katie Beckett applications or IEPs. And while they take just a few minutes to create, these lists could ultimately be lifesaving if something happened to you and someone needed to immediately begin caring for your child.

Make Sure This Information Is Part Of Your Special Needs Estate Plan

Finally, I recommend that these lists be included in your special needs estate plan. Families often include these lists as part of their annual letter to their child’s guardian.

It’s important for everyone to know who to contact and how to continue your child’s medications in case of an emergency. So while we’re busy making all our lists, you can now add one more item to your To-Do List – your child’s Medication and Healthcare Providers List.

Contact Us

If you need help with your special needs estate plan, we’d love to help. We’ve helped hundreds of families create legal plans that give them a peace of mind should anything happen to them. DJ@JeyLaw.com 678.325.3872.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Lawyer For Your Will vs. Using An Online Service

Online Will Hire Attorney Jeyaram Georgia TrustRecently we saw an article – written by a non lawyer – recommending individuals and families complete their wills online as a way to save money.

However, there are several major flaws with this “money-saving approach” and online wills could ultimately end up costing an individual or family significantly more money than what they initially intended to pay.

Top 10 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Help You Write Your Will

  1. Experienced estate planning attorneys will create personalized plans for you based on a vast array of estate planning tools that “do-it-yourself” online wills do not consider.
  2. Online wills provide you with generic “one-size-fits-all” documents that are not tailored to your specific needs. Your life is not a one-size-fits-all and your will should reflect that.
  3. When partnering with a lawyer, you are able to include specific details and information that the online forms do not allow you to include due to space limitations or lack of fields on the forms.
  4. Online services also try to “up sell” customers through the process – the low cost offer is often a “hook” for more expensive packages. Almost all estate planning attorneys offer an upfront, flat fee for their wills.
  5. As your life situations change, your lawyer can easily help you update and change your legal plan as needed so that it best protects your loved ones and assets. Online forms cannot provide the guidance or recommendations attorneys can.
  6. Attorneys will have seen literally hundreds of cases and will be able to help you make informed decisions and avoid pitfalls they have seen in other cases.
  7. An attorney will help you identify ways to minimize your tax liabilities upon your passing. Online will services typically do not provide this feature.
  8. If you need something more than a basic will, such as a trust or special needs trust, online services often cannot address the complexity involved in these legal matters.
  9. Online forms cannot provide you guidance or help you think through important decisions such as who you should select as a guardian or trustee. An experienced attorney will help you think through the process and help you make a decision that you’re comfortable with.
  10. Most importantly, when it’s time for your will to be executed, your family will need to hire an attorney. If your family already has an established relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney, this is one less thing for a grieving – and often overwhelmed – family to have to deal with upon your passing.

A Will Should NOT Be A One Size Fits All 

When it comes to protecting your family and assets, we recommend investing in the process of writing your will and partnering with an attorney to prevent any future headaches or heartaches.

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, they will talk to you about your life, your family, your wishes and desires. They’ll also talk to you about your assets, your desires for how they should be distributed and what the best ways are to minimize tax liabilities. Online wills cannot provide this guidance.

Your life is not generic – neither should your will.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills and trusts to best reflect and protect their families and assets.

When you meet with us, we carefully listen to your unique needs and will create a customized will or trust based on those needs and your wishes. We’re here to help you create a plan that gives you peace of mind. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

When & How Often Should You Update Your Will?

Wills Trusts Special Needs Trust Attorney Jeyaram & Associates One of the biggest misperceptions about wills and trusts is that once they’re written they cannot be changed or that it’s difficult to change a will or trust.

This is not true.

Wills and trusts should be viewed as “organic” and “living” documents that can and should be updated as your life changes.

Nothing Stays The Same

We all know the adage “nothing stays the same” to be true. Our lives and circumstances always change – sometimes quickly or in ways that we never anticipated. These changes often impact decisions we’ve made in our will and trust, and as a result, we need to update and change our wills and trusts to reflect those changes.

Following is a sample list of life changes as to when you should update or change your will:

  • Addition of a child (ex. birth or adoption)
  • Death of someone named in the will (ex. guardian, trustee, spouse, child, etc.)
  • Divorce or marriage
  • Change of address
  • A minor turns 18
  • Retirement
  • Your property value significantly changes (decreases or increases)
  • Acquisition of significant assets or finances (ex. an inheritance)
  • Significant change in health (yours or someone named in the will or trust)
  • Prior to turning 701/2 years of age if you have an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plan that requires you to begin taking distributions at age 701/2.

You Change Your Mind

Recently we had a client update their special needs trust to reflect changes in their relationship with an individual they listed a guardian. The individual initially listed as guardian was experiencing significant personal changes that resulted in estranged relations with the family. As a result, the client named a new guardian for his children.

Even if something as significant as the aforementioned doesn’t happen, you can always update or change individuals listed in your will or trust or how your assets should be allocated. Sometimes our opinions change or our needs change. As a result, it’s important to update your will or trust to reflect those changes.

Time & Changes In The Law

If you have a special needs trust in place, I always encourage clients to review them on an annual basis – especially the letter to guardians. The letter to guardians is the organic plan that details how to best care for a differently abled child if something suddenly happens to you. A lot can change in a year with a child – anything from new routines to new medical conditions to new favorite toys. This letter is the life line for guardians.

Updating your will or trust every 3 to 5 years is ideal. During that time, changes in estate planning laws may have occurred and your attorney can advise you accordingly.

Easy To Update

It’s important to never try to change or update your will or trust by simply crossing out or adding words or lines on the will. These edits invite confusion and could be challenged in court as to whether they are legally valid. As a result, it’s best to contact your attorney when you need to make updates.

While the initial will may take a bit of time to complete since you’re making important legal decisions to protect your family and asset, updating your will or trust is not as involved. Your attorney will prepare a new will for you to sign to revokes the earlier one.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills to best reflect and protect their families and assets as their situations change. If you’re not sure how changes in your life will impact your will, just call us. That’s what we’re here for. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Not Sure Who Should Be Your Child’s Guardian? Here Are Some Tips

Guardian, Special Needs Trusts, Attorney, Atlanta, GA Recently a family came in for a special needs trust consult and they were at a loss as to whom they should designate as their child’s guardian.

Although the wife had two sisters, neither of them lived close by; nor took an interest in their intellectually disabled niece. The husband also had a sister, but she didn’t have any children – and never wanted any.

Although both of the couple’s parents were eager to be guardians, the parents were of advanced age and in poor health. And as for extended relatives, well, they were extended and didn’t have any meaningful contact with their family.

It’s OK If The Guardian Is NOT Biologically Related

This scenario is more frequent than may you think. We often talk with families who do not have any biological family that can or want to serve as their special needs child’s guardian. And that’s OK.

You don’t want to designate individuals as guardians if they don’t want to be or do not have a meaningful relationship with your child.

“Our Chosen Family”

One of the things that my wife and I have learned through the years (and being in a similar situation as the couple that came to my office) is that you create what we call “Our Chosen Family.”

Our Chosen Family consists of people who WANT to be a part of our lives and enjoy spending time not only with us, but our special needs son. These are people who we’ve come to trust and love us as if they were our own biological family – and it’s these same people who we have chosen to be our children’s guardians.

Something to consider is that by taking the pressure off of your biological family, this may encourage them to remain engaged with your child. Many times biological family members want to help, but may not be in a position to assume guardianship.

Just because you do not choose someone as guardian, does not mean that they cannot be involved in your child’s life and/or be of assistance to the guardian.

There are several ways to keep non-guardians involved including informal roles like “God-parent” or more formal structures like Micro-Boards.

Things to Consider When Choosing A Guardian

When considering who to chose as your child’s guardian, here are some things to consider:

  • Does the potential guardian have a meaningful relationship with your child?
  • Would your child need to move to live with the guardian? How would this impact your child’s therapies or education?
  • Does the potential guardian have the energy and health to take care of your child?
  • Are they trustworthy and responsible?
  • Would the potential guardian continue to care for your child in a way that you want?
  • Most importantly, do they WANT to be a part of your family and be your child’s caregiver if something were to happen to you?

Also, something to keep in mind is that NO ONE will ever care for your child like you do. So it’s important to keep this in mind and be realistic when selecting a guardian.

We hope that our child will never need a guardian, but if they do, this person will need to quickly step in and make sure your child receives the love and care they need.

We Can Help You Decide

The story of the couple that came into my office has a happy ending.

After talking with them about their “Chosen Family,” the answer as to whom should be their daughter’s guardian was much easier and the person they selected gave them great peace of mind.

So even though the guardian they selected was not biologically related, the guardian was their “Chosen Family.”

If you’re struggling with who to designate as a guardian for your child, we can help. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com and 678.325.3872.

#SpecialNeedsTrusts #Guardians #ChosenFamily

How To Choose A Trustee

Trustee, Trust, Will, Estate Planning, Attorney, Lawyer, Jeyaram, Georgia, AtlantaWhen you set up a trust to protect your assets and finances, one of the most important decisions you will make is who will serve as your trustee.

The trustee (or trustees) is someone who will manage your money and property if you become incapacitated (living will) or for the benefit of others after you pass.

The trustee has a lot of authority, so it’s important to select someone you not only trust and have great confidence in, but also:

  • Makes smart financial decisions
  • Is responsible
  • Can meet deadlines (ex. paying bills on time and filing taxes)
  • Has a healthy relationship with your family
  • Is good at communicating as many decisions and ongoing conversations will need to occur.

Trustees are most often a family member or an institution. Following are some benefits and disadvantages to both:

Family Member

Perhaps the biggest benefits of selecting a family member as a trustee is that they may not charge you a fee to be the trustee and most likely, they have a good understanding of how your family works and what it needs.

However, on the flip side, if you choose a family member to be the trustee it could lead to conflict or resentment especially if there is a separate guardian involved for a minor child or disabled adult. Further, the family member may not have financial prowess and may need to hire someone to help them.

Finally, the family member could become incapacitated, get divorced or pass away. As a result, if you select a family member as a trustee, it’s important to name a successor trustee.

An Institution

If you choose a bank or financial institution as the trustee, there is stability (it most likely won’t die) and more likely financial acumen than a family member. The bank can handle any investments, tax preparations, management, and accounting of the trust’s finances. Further, the bank is regulated by federal laws and uninvolved in family politics.

The downside of naming a bank or financial institution as a trustee is cost. Sometimes banks have a minimum fee. This may make banks cost-prohibitive for small trusts. Further, while the bank may not die, employees at the bank can change frequently making it difficult to build relationships.

Still Not Sure?

Choosing the right trustee is an important decision and can be stressful as there are many factors to consider. However, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine whether a family member or an institution will be the best choice for you based on your wants and family’s needs.

We’re Here To Help

DJ Jeyaram is an experienced estate planning attorney who specializes in helping families create trusts – including identifying the best trustee – to meet their needs and situations.

You will work directly with DJ in creating a will or trust that reflects your family. DJ can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Do Your Loved Ones Know What You Want If You Become Incapacitated? Do You?

will trusts estate planning incapacitatedSpecial blog post by Cassandra Jeyaram, PhD

The week before Thanksgiving, my 90-year-old grandfather passed away at his home. I am so thankful I was able to spend his last few days, hours and minutes with him.

Although he was incapacitated and could not talk, open his eyes or move his body, he knew I was there. I talked to him about his hometown of Winooski, Vermont, played his favorite CDs and told him some bad jokes, at which he managed a half smile on several occasions.

I shared with him how he taught me how to ice skate, fish (and subsequently get a fishing hook out of my belly button) and how to eat watermelon. I rubbed his feet, held his hands, and tried to make sure he was as comfortable as possible.

This Is An Important Conversation To Have With Loved Ones

It was during these last few precious moments with my grandfather that I realized I had never thought about what I would want during my final moments if I were incapacitated. Being incapacitated is something my family never discussed. Although it’s a conversation no ones like to have, it’s an important one.

Upon returning home after my grandfather’s passing, my husband and I sat down to update our wills and document in detail what we both wanted if we were incapacitated.

I would love a view of nature, classical music gently playing in the background and soft blankets. We also wrote down that if someone became upset while visiting me, they would be asked to leave the room. I know my heart would break hearing/seeing/feeling someone I love upset. I included this as I watched my grandmother sobbing over my grandfather with her tears falling on his face.

I can only imagine the heartbreak both of them were feeling after being married 69 years. I could sense my grandfather was holding on for my grandmother and only when my grandmother peacefully fell asleep on the couch next to him did he finally let go.

Some Things To Think About

When we think about “Estate Plans,” we often only think about our wills and what happens if we die. But an important part of our estate plans are our wishes of what we would want to hear, see or feel if we are incapacitated. Some things to consider are, where do you want to be? At home? In a hospital? What sounds or sights would you like? Do you have a favorite CD? Movie? Do you want your pet to be with you? Who would you like to visit you?

While these questions are not exhaustive, they are designed to help you to start thinking about your wishes if you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s what you want.

As I look back on my grandfather’s life and this post, I realize my grandfather taught me many things, including that I need to communicate and document my final wishes.

Documenting Your Final Wishes

If you’d like help with your final wishes, DJ can help guide you through the process and make sure they are a part of your will or estate plan. He can be reached at 678.325.3872 or DJ@JeyLaw.com.

 

The Easiest New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Create A Will

Wills Trusts and Estates New Years ResolutionWith the holidays behind us, many of are making resolutions to eat better, exercise more, get more sleep and try to balance our work and personal lives in the new year.

However, one of the most important resolutions we can make is often left off our list – writing a will. Putting into place a will or estate plan is perhaps one of the easiest and fastest resolutions you can check off your list!

Who Needs A Will?

Everyone. No matter your age, financial situation, marital status or stage in life needs a will, trust, or estate plan. Estate planning will benefit your loved ones by ensuring that your assets are properly distributed the way you want – not the way a court decides.

Why Do You Need A Will?

  • If you have minor children and don’t have a legal plan in place when you place, a court will decide who will care for them.
  • You’ve worked hard for your assets. Think about who you would leave your assets to – family, friends, or charities.
  • A legal plan will save your family from worrying and avoid disputes about your wishes.
  • Without a plan, a court decides who gets what. Your loved ones could be left without what you wanted.

Too many times we’ve seen families dealing with the loss of a loved one also have to face unexpected financial hardship because a plan wasn’t in place. Their loved one’s assets were tied up in the courts. The families had to hire a lawyer to help them navigate the courts and probate process – adding to the financial hardship. All of these situations could have been avoided if a legal place had been put into place.

What’s The Process For Writing For A Will?

When you contact a law firm to help you write a will, an attorney will send you a questionnaire to complete. The list of questions will help you start thinking about how you want to secure your legacy and distribute your assets – whether it’s to family, friends, charities, your place of worship or community – it’s important that your wishes are documented in a legal plan.

The list includes standard questions about your assets (ex. checking and/or savings accounts, property, car, life insurance, etc.) as well your final wishes (Do you want to buried? If so where? Do you want to be cremated? Etc.).

It will also ask questions such as who do you want to execute your will, guardianship for your child/children, and wishes if you were to be come incapacitated. And don’t worry if you’re not quite sure what to include. An estate planning attorney can help guide you and help you think about what will work best for your life.

New Year’s Resolution 

While death isn’t something we like to think about – it’s something that happens to all of us – and one of the best ways we can protect our loved ones is to make a New Year’s resolution to put into place a will or estate plan.

And if you already have a will or estate plan in place, the New Year is always a good time to reflect upon changes in your life and make any necessary changes to your legal plan.

We Can Help

DJ Jeyaram, Esq., is an experienced wills and estate planning attorney who can help you customize a will to best meet your needs and protect your loved ones. Contact DJ at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678-325-3872.

If Your Child Has Autism, Make Sure These 4 Things Are In Your Will

Autsim Will & Special Needs Trust

Although everyone should have a will, as parents of special needs children, we need wills to ensure that our kids are well cared for and have a good quality of life after we pass.

My son has a dual diagnosis of Autism and Williams Syndrome. Here are four things I recommend all parents of children with Autism – or any special needs – include in their wills or estate plans.

1) A Special Needs Trust – A will is a basic legal document that details your last wishes and is often used to distribute your property or assets.

However, a basic will does not include provisions that are needed to protect and provide for your special needs child. This is where a Special Needs Trust comes into play. A Special Needs Trust can be a part of your will or it can be a stand-alone document. It allows you to designate and qualify your assets in a way that doesn’t penalize your child when it comes to his or her public benefits.

Eligibility for many government benefits is determined based on the resources your child or adult ward holds in his or her name. If your special needs child has too many resources, even by just one dollar, he or she may not qualify for, or may even lose, benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Even if your child does not currently receive government assistance, he or she may need it in the future.

A special needs trust is a way to protect your loved one’s current resources and future benefits. Through a special needs trust you can leave assets to your child or ward without negatively impacting his or her government benefits.

2) Designated Guardian – We often assume that a member of our family – maybe a sister or our own mother – will automatically be given custody of our children if something happens to us. However, this is not true unless you have a will, trust or estate plan in place that specifically names them as guardians.

Without a legal plan in place, anyone can request custody and a judge will decide with whom your child/children will live with. Choosing a guardian is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions to make. It’s important to choose someone you trust and who will respect your wishes for your child(ren).

Things to consider when selecting any child’s guardian are the guardian’s age, his or her family values, parenting style, character, willingness to serve as guardian and whether he or she already has an established relationship with your child.

With a special needs child there are even more considerations. Think about the traits that you, as a special needs parent, need to raise your child and does the guardian have these traits?  My top three traits for special needs guardians are 1) Energy; 2) Patience; and 3) The ability to advocate for my child. (See Related Post: 10 Tips On Choosing The Right Guardian)

3) Guardianship Letter & Instructions –  Once you’ve selected a guardian, you need to put them in a position to succeed if they are forced to step into your shoes. You should write instructions to the guardian about things they will need to know on how to parent your child.

Include things like your child’s routines, medicines, information about his or her medical providers, how to deal with sensory meltdowns, what is the best way to get them to eat or sleep. Simple things like their favorite stuffed animal that they need to go to sleep with at night or where they like to hide their favorite sippy cup or the name of their favorite YouTube videos are small details – but they are of big importance to our children.

We’ve had years to learn these things about our kids. Help your child’s guardian avoid having to learn from experience by documenting what you already know!  (See Related Post: How To Create A Successful Care Plan For Your Child’s Guardians)

By painstakingly detailing your routines and including details about what makes your child comfortable or happy in your care plan, you are setting your guardians up for success and for a smooth transition in case something were to suddenly happen to you and your spouse.

4) Conservator or Trustee – A conservator or trustee is someone to handle all financial decisions related to your child. A conservator helps ensure that money left to your special needs child is used for your child in ways that best benefit  your child.

Often times families ask me if their child’s designated guardian should also be the conservator or trustee. It depends. Your guardian can serve as both, but sometimes families prefer set up some up checks and balances by selecting different guardians and conservators. It’s important to select someone you trust and who will make smart financial decisions on your child’s behalf.  The guardian and the conservator work together in the best interest of your child.

Getting Started

As a parent of a special needs child and an estate planning attorney, I understand the challenges of adding one more thing to your plate. However, putting into place a will to protect your child with special needs is something we all need to do sooner rather than later – just in case.

We’ll walk you through the will planning process step-by-step. Initial consults are free.  We want to help you create a legal plan that best protects your child with special needs as well as your final wishes for your entire family. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

 

Sending One More Message To Loved Ones After You Pass | How To Create A Legacy Statement

Legacy StatementsMy wife would give anything to hear her mom’s voice, to see her smile or read a letter from her one more time.

Sadly, my wife’s mom suddenly passed away more than 20 years ago at the age of 43. The most cherished memories my wife has of her mom are the stories her mom would tell my wife about her own childhood.

As with all things, those memories fade over time and when the teller of the tale has passed, details are sometimes lost forever. As a result, my wife and I have included Legacy Statements as part of our wills.

Heartfelt Messages For Loved Ones 

Legacy Statements can be a part of your estate plan and are an opportunity to tell loved ones stories or messages that you do not want lost when you pass. Things like your favorite memories, what you had hoped to accomplish in this life, as well as your hopes and dreams for your children. Your Legacy Statement can also explain why you made certain choices or it can simply be a heartfelt message for loved ones to cherish.

You can video tape, tape record or write your messages. I’ve also had some clients include favorite photos of their loved ones with a special note on the back of the photos. Legacy Statements are such a meaningful way to preserve your legacy, and that of your family, after you pass. It’s also a way to pass on family traditions and history.

Creating Your Legacy Statement Is Not A Sad Process 

The process of creating a Legacy Statement does not have to be a sad affair. In fact, many of the stories I see preserved are memories of a happy childhood, a secret recipe finally revealed or, in one funny instance, the differing views of the parents’ first date together!

As a first generation American, my personal statement is the story my father told me about his flight abroad and his first day in America. He left everything he knew and loved to chase the American dream. He arrived in New York with no money and only one suitcase – but a heart full of hope and determination. I want my children and their future children to understand where they came from and why they are here. That is the importance of legacy.

Legacy Statements Give Comfort To Your Family

So while we do not have any control over when we pass, we can leave a positive and meaningful impression on future generations. Legacy Statements allow those grieving a respite from the pain and sorrow and give them something positive to hold on to. It gives them a sense of peace and comfort.

As a wills, trusts an estate lawyer, I love nothing more than seeing the comfort Legacy Statements bring to family and friends. It gives them a chance to hear from you – one more time.

We Can Help You

Our attorneys have extensive experience in creating wills and legacy statements and will help you through the process step-by-step. Please contact to DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Someone You Love Have Alzheimer’s? Here’s Why They Need An Advance Medical Directive

Advance Medical Directive

Why An Advance Medical Directive Is Important

My wife’s grandfather (we call him Opa) has the last stages of Alzheimer’s. I remember meeting him more than a decade ago and he was vibrant, funny and loved to sing.

Now, at almost 90 years old, he does not remember me and spends his days in bed asking the same questions over and over and over.

Recently my wife called to check on Opa and he was crying hysterically. She asked him what was wrong and his sobbing reply was, “Didn’t they tell you? Your grandmother is gone. She’s gone.” And then he hung up the phone.

Of course, my wife called back immediately and her grandmother answered the phone. She had been standing next to Opa (my wife’s grandfather) the entire time and clearly she was alive and well. However, what was not well was Opa’s memory.

It was heartbreaking to say the least. My wife was visibly upset. She has traveled numerous times to help him when he became sick or was hospitalized. Her grandparents live about 2 1/2 hours away.

But with a young family of our own –  including a special needs child – it’s hard for her to get away. That’s where having an Advance Medical Directive in place has been extremely helpful. Even if my wife cannot be there in person, she can at least talk to the doctors and help make decisions on Opa’s behalf.

Thankfully, before Opa’s Alzheimer’s had progressed too much, he agreed for my wife to be his Healthcare Agent and give her the legal authority to make medical decisions on his behalf.

Advance Medical Directive – Why You & Loved Ones Need It 

An Advance Medical Directive is also known as a health care proxy, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, or healthcare agent. The purpose of an Advance Medical Directive is to legally enable an individual to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself or express your wishes about your health. It also helps those individuals and your healthcare providers know about your treatment preferences. Examples of being unable to make medical decisions for yourself include:

• Permanent illness like Alzheimer’s

• Incapacity

• A coma or persistent vegetative state

• If you are having an outpatient surgical procedure and are under general anesthesia

Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your Advance Medical Directive’s decisions as if they were your own but only if the Directive is properly executed.

By having an Advance Medical Directive, a doctor clearly knows whose direction is to be followed in the event your family disagrees as to what medical treatment you would want.

When Should You Set Up An Advanced Medical Directive?

Now. The unexpected in life happens. It happened to one of our good friends. Our friend received a call that her husband had been in a car accident and was unresponsive. He ended up being in a coma for three weeks. Thankfully there was not a dispute between our friend and her husband’s parents. However, if there had been a disagreement about his medical care, an Advance Medical Directive would have been critical.

Opa named my wife as his Healthcare Agent in his Advance Medical Directive during the early stages of his diagnosis. This is important. If he had signed the document during the final stages of Alzheimer’s, the legitimacy and legality of the Advance Medical Directive could be challenged in court if there was a disagreement within her family about his medical treatment. This is why putting documentation in place before you need it is very important.

How Do You Set Up An Advance Medical Directive?

All 50 states have forms online where you can establish an Advance Medical Directive. However, the state forms do not always address the important nuances of your healthcare decisions. For example, if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate, but not terminal, what do you want your life to look like? Do you want to be somewhere you can have a pet? A room with a view? NetFlix? By having an attorney help you set up an Advance Medical Directive, you ensure that your wishes are complete and clear to everyone involved.

Where Do You Start? 

Start having conversations with your loved ones about your medical wishes. These are not easy conversations, but they are important to ensure that your desires are enacted should you be unable to make decisions about your health.

And if someone you love has Alzheimer’s or other permanent or terminal illness, it’s important to put into place an Advance Medical Directive before their health significantly declines.

Contact Us

Our attorneys specialize in setting up an Advance Medical Directives. I have more than 20 years healthcare experience – working with medical professionals and individuals who need medical help. Further, we’ve personally been through the process with our own families. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.