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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Watch Out for These Mistakes While Advocating for Senior Loved Ones

Have you ever had to respond to a health care emergency involving a senior loved one? During the COVID-19 crisis many families were forced to confront these emergencies. Sadly, the pandemic has hit elder adults disproportionately harder than the rest of society. Too late families realized they lacked the basic health care documents needed to act effectively on the behalf of their senior loved ones.

With the coronavirus scare far from over or another type of emergency waiting to happen, it is time to take steps to protect your senior loved one and address important estate planning documents. Yes, estate planning does pertain to wills and trusts, but it also means drafting legally sound health care documents, such as an advance directive for health care, a living will, a HIPAA, and more.

Whether you are preparing for another round of the coronavirus, or the advent of health considerations like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, we would like to discuss the mistakes of “not knowing” and how to avoid them when using estate documents to advocate for a senior loved one:

1.Not knowing what a living will is. A living will is not a last will and testament. It is a completely separate legal document. It is to inform everyone what the elderly family member’s personal choices are concerning his or her health care, and, in particular, end-of-life medical decisions. In addition, a living will is also different from a medical power of attorney in that the elder adult’s “agent” must abide by the instructions written in the living will document. 

2.Not knowing what the elder adult wanted. Even the most expertly drafted legal documents can fall short if an elder loved one’s health care wishes are either unknown or unclear. Contact your Alabama estate planning attorney, have specific conversations with your older loved one about health care and have your attorney create a document reflecting your loved one’s wishes. By constructing accurate health documents, or updating them, you have provided future guidance to more effectively advocate for your loved one.

3.Not knowing what a health care document is. Health care estate planning tools are very important for an elder family member to have. If your loved one is incapacitated or in an accident and unable to make medical decisions, the trusted agent chosen by the loved one can step in, and under the health care document, take over and make medical decisions knowing the wishes of your loved one.

4.Not knowing how to choose the right agent. Advocating for an elder loved one is important and serious. Your loved one’s agent needs to be able to communicate with physicians and family, observe all that is going on and ask questions. Do not hesitate to consult with your Alabama estate planning attorney for advice on choosing the right agent for your senior loved one. 

At the end of the day, legal planning is not just for you. Instead, it is for the ones you love most. If we can answer any questions for you on putting this estate planning in place, please do not hesitate to let us know. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.


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