This week we will examine
THREE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS IN ESTATE PLANNING:
1. Durable Power of Attorney for Health-care (POA) This is no longer used as a separate document. It is now combined into the Advance Health-care Directive.
2. Advance Health-care Directive, This form combines the POA and the Advance Health-care Directive. This is often referred to as a Living Will. This free and easy to understand form with excellent instructions is available in twelve languages from Swedish Hospital at https://www.swedish.org/patient-visitor-info/patient-information/preparing-for-your-hospital-stay/advance-directives
* VETERANS: The VA has a downloadable form that combines the POA and the Advance Health-care Directive form available to download for free at https://www.va.gov/vaforms/form_detail.asp?FormNo=0137
3. Portable Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
These are nationally accepted, portable, medical orders directing medical personnel regarding your decisions. Download and print out the free form https://polst.org/national-form/
Because these forms are of such importance great care has been taken to make them clear and easily understood by the general public. With these forms you will be setting out your final wishes for your family, the medical community, your personal representative and, in the event of a conflict, the Washington courts. That is why it is vitally important that you make these decisions now while you clear headed and not in a healthcare crisis. Ok, let's get started.
Advance Health-care Directive To Physicians (Living Will) This form streamlines the process by combining the Durable Power of Attorney with the Advance Care Directive. These forms are controlled by law. Every paragraph is important. This is why when you download the four page form it comes with four pages of instructions. First let's clarify "attorney" we are using the ancient French meaning of the word attorney, one appointed by another to act in his place. You are not appointing a lawyer. Most people appoint a spouse or relative. You will want to talk this over to be sure your representative understands and is comfortable with your choices. Let's go through the Swedish Hospital form. The first thing you will fill in is your name and address. Next write in the name of the person you select with complete contact information. Next fill in the name of an alternate just in case. Now we come to granting your representative or attorney-in-fact the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf either beginning immediately or when you are not able to. Read the paragraph by paragraph instructions and continue filling in all four pages. When you are ready to sign you have two choices. Either sign it in front of two witnesses or you can sign it before a Notary Public.
Portable Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The third form is one that you will complete with your physician because the POLST form is actually a doctor's order signed by your doctor and instructing all other medical professionals what your wishes are at the end of your life. This form is governed by national legislation and is called portable because it is to be respected as as your wishes and your doctor's order wherever you go. This form is advised for people dealing with a terminal illness or advanced age. I recommend you read the information at the national website, https://polst.org/national-form/. Then discuss it with your doctor. This is the form many seniors have posted on their refrigerators.
Good luck, next week we will look at a Last Will and Testament .