In our last blog post, we discussed the benefits of designating a power of attorney when planning for future financial needs and security. We also looked at how family members can gain conservatorship rights in cases where a loved one has failed to designate a POA. In this post, we’ll examine the benefits of establishing a health care directive and why doing so is especially important for those individuals over the age of 65.

Taking the time to consider possible future health care matters can save loved ones the burden of having to make difficult and emotionally-taxing decisions. A living will or health care directive is a legal document in which an individual states their wishes with regard to what types of medical intervention should and should not be taken in the event he or she becomes incapacitated.

In addition to having this essential document, an individual should name a health care representative who can ensure their wishes are carried out. Naming a health care representative also allows this individual access to medical records and history that may help when making important medical decisions.

In cases where a loved does not have a living will and failed to name a health care representative, family members can petition the court to be named legal guardians. If a guardianship is granted, those appointed are able to carry out some of the same duties as a health care representative, but are subject to the rules of and restrictions imposed by the court.

When contemplating how one wishes to spend their retirement years, few individuals over the age of 65 want to contemplate falling ill or being hospitalized. The reality, however, is that such events do occur and can be both costly and emotionally taxing. By taking steps to plan for possible future financial and health care needs, an individual can gain control over their future and helps ease burdens otherwise placed on family members.

Source: The Oregonian, “Sandwich generation: Handling an elderly parent’s financial, legal and medical matters,” Amy Wang, Jan. 29, 2014