A FindLaw.com survey revealed that the vast majority of Americans, 61-percent, don’t have an Advance Directive in place. This opens the door for possible “legal problems for family members if they are unable to communicate their health care wishes due to illness or loss of consciousness.” Why does this matter to a financial professional?
Living Will + Health Care Proxy = Advance Directive
An Advance Directive is comprised of a Living Will and naming a Health Care Proxy. The Living Will determines what treatments a person wants in the event of a medical emergency. The Health Care Proxy makes sure those wishes are carried out.
So, again, why does a person’s physical health matter when your job is to manage their financial health? Because it’s best to bring up medical issues when it’s not an issue, and who better than an objective professional? If a client is healthy they can think clearly about their decisions, as opposed to emotional strain one experiences when dealing with an ongoing crisis.
Also, a recent report from the American Heart Association found that doctors have a difficult time having this discussion due to family unreadiness, time constraints, and the perception of the patient. So to solve this problem, and keep families from possibly being torn apart if a major health issue strikes, we’ve all got to get creative when it comes to getting people to fill out an these important documents.
Some Helpful Tips & Advice You Can Offer
Make Sure Your Client Has the Right Forms: The documents are easy to obtain (we have all the forms for each state on our site) and don’t require much effort to complete.
Always Make Clear and Consistent Choices: The primary focus of an Advance Directive is about lifesaving measures, but it’s also important to specific preferences when it comes to pain relief and hydration/nutrition methods.
Store Extra Copies: This is one of those documents that you need to be accessible in the event of an emergency. It doesn’t have to be prominently on display, but it should not be hidden away or in a safe deposit box (unless someone else has 24-hour access).
Keep It Current: Sometimes people change their mind. For example, something could happen to a Health Care Proxy and another has to be chosen. If there are any changes to be made, fill out a new Advance Directive and destroy all the outdated copies.
Update It If You Move: There are different forms for each state. If you move, tear up the old form and fill out the new one.
When In Doubt, Seek Help: If there are concerns that it could be contested or invalidated, call in a pro. An estate attorney can help eliminate any confusion and make sure it’s done correct.
Questions To Consider
Here at Everplans we’re interested in capturing real voices and sound advice from experienced experts so we can help and educate other professionals and our platform users. If you can offer any insight into the following areas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:
- Do you think speaking about medical issues is beyond the scope of your duties?
- Have you ever had to deal with a financial or legal emergency with a client’s family because they didn’t have an Advance Directive in place?