The Law in Your Life


Life Care Plan

Creating a plan for the care and welfare of your life and that of your family as you grow older can be called a life care plan. This plan is not a legal document, although it embodies legal concepts.

Although the purpose for creating such a plan may be to enable Americans to commence the thinking process with respect to getting older, it can be argued that this kind of planning could also help to prevent major legal problems if you suffered an unexpected catastrophic injury or illness, such as a car accident, or a stroke, or a medical diagnosis of cancer. Everyone has heard stories of young career men and women, without any warning whatsoever, diagnosed with cancer. Naturally, many of them had never given anything more than a passing thought to such an event, and therefore no planning or preventative measures had been taken.

Thus, whether you are thirty or eighty, there are steps you can take to help your family avoid hassles and preserve your assets. There are a number of methods by which to plan, in advance, for the possibility that certain medical conditions may happen to you, or a member of your family. Legal documents such as Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney For Healthcare can help you immensely.

A Life Care Plan is nothing more than considering these legal mechanisms, already discussed, along with other things which, as you get older, you may wish to consider. Considering these things now may help to answer certain questions, such as who do I trust with my bank account information? Or who will take care of my children if something happened to my spouse and me? Or should a particular person know my medical history?

These types of questions arouse much thought, but too often, not enough preventative activity. There is no special format to a life care plan, and the one we will discuss may not be as complete as others. We are certain, however, that taking some time to consider this in addition to the legal documents discussed in the Family Health Legal Library will help you help your family.

Major Elements In Life Planning

Several elements are of paramount concern in thinking about one's future. These elements include: (1) how you wish your body to be treated if you suffer either permanent incapacitation or death; (2) whether the persons related to you can access your financial information; and (3) services and arrangements if you were to suffer death.

Treatment for Your Body If You Became Incapacitated

If you became incapacitated tomorrow, how would you want the hospital or the long-term care professionals to treat your body? This is not really an issue if you are conscious or temporarily paralyzed, but is a significant issue if you are unconscious or in a coma, for example, from a family outing at the river, where you and your three year old son were canoeing, and the canoe tipped throwing you into the water and hitting your head on a rock.

Do you want life support to continue? Do you want daily hydration to continue or to be withheld at some point? What about certain professionals who maintain their beliefs that certain treatments may help you recover, when they might seem ridiculous to your family? It might be worth it to consider these issues and to specify them in writing. One way to do so is in the form of a Living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. Another form which may help trigger some issues for thought would be those items set forth in the Declaration Regarding Final Arrangements.

Treatment of Your Body If You Suffered Death

If you were to suffer death unexpectedly are you prepared? More importantly have you taken the steps you can to keep the trouble, hassle and huge expense of time and money to a minimum for your family? Once again, the Living Will analysis might assist in this area. Also, do you have a Will and is this enough? For a detailed discussion of these issues and whether you should have a will, or whether you should undertake more planning see the following topics:
Protecting Your Estate details what can happen without a will and the tremendous expense to your family.
Wills: Do I really need one? examines wills and how effective they are in helping your family.
Revocable and Irrevocable Living Trusts examines other legal means by which you can transfer your financial affairs to others in the form of some type of trust.

In addition, by referring to the Declaration Regarding Final Arrangements, you will be directed to many legal issues that deal with how you wish your body to be treated at death. A thorough review of this form, and completion at a convenient and unpressured time, may help you to make certain decisions about these issues, and not leave your family at a loss in wondering why and how you could fail to plan for this event.

Services, Funeral Arrangements and Other Details

Again to assist your family, you should give some thought to the issues of funeral arrangements, services, burial and other related issues. The Declaration Regarding Final Arrangements again may be helpful to placing some of your desires in writing, even though it may difficult to talk to another about these issues. Many spouses do not, when pressured to answer, know how their own spouse wishes to be buried, where they wish to be buried, or how much of a service would be desired and other related issues.

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