You’ve been a fully-functioning, adult member of society for… 20, 30, 40 years (shhh, I’m not asking!) and you know a thing or two about taking care of your life. You know how to make your own financial and health decisions and while it’s not always fun to schedule that dentist appointment or lab work, or to pay the electric bill – again! – it’s also not a big deal.
How are you going to manage it all if you’re faced with the unexpected – like a health crisis?
Spoiler alert: You’re going to be a Good Guardian NOW and have a plan in place!
Stuff happens all the time. And I’ve got a confession to make:
I had surgery on my foot in November. And I had to update my plan – because I hadn’t updated it recently! This could easily have been a health crisis – even though it wasn’t a surprise or an emergency – if I hadn’t had my plan in place. Sometimes the crisis is the fact that you only have a few days between injury and surgery.
Going from being the person MAKING the decisions to being a person who can’t… can be terrifying. But being prepared doesn’t have to be. It’s never too early – or too late – to get these documents in place, as long as it’s before your health crisis pops up. It can be a quick and easy process when someone guides you one question at a time. You don’t have to have it all figured out.
Here are five simple steps you can take to make sure you’re taken care of.
- Brainstorm the Qualities of a Decision-Maker
Right now, you can make all your own decisions. But if you couldn’t, what type of person would you want making decisions for you? Would you want someone who could be compassionate and emotion-based, or more detached and logical? Thorough and researched, or instinctual? These are all great qualities, and very different. What qualities are important to you?
- Pick the Right Person for Right Now
We work with our clients to talk them through a process of picking a person for each role – Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, etc. – based on the qualities of the person you want in that role. You might pick one person for each role or one person might fill multiple roles! You might even want multiple people working together in a role.
But you’re going to want to focus on picking who is Right for Right Now. This is why Good Guardian Plans are meant to be revisited, updated and changed over time. Our lives and circumstances change, so should our Plans.
We previously wrote about choosing guardians for minor children. The same principles apply to choosing someone to make decisions for you. You can find that article here: Who You Gonna Call?
- Identify a Backup
Sometimes the person you want to make decisions for you isn’t available – like if you name your spouse and you’re both in the same accident. For this reason, it’s equally important to identify who could act as a backup decision-maker.
- Legally Document Your Choices
The decisions you’ve made mean nothing if they are not legally documented. And by legally documented, I mean following the laws to make sure your choices will be enforceable if someone questions them. And yes, you need to do this even if you’re naming your spouse. There’s no automatic right for a spouse to make decisions for you.
- Execute, Review Regularly and Update as Needed
As part of the Good Guardian Planning Process, we work with our clients to make sure documents are properly signed, notarized and witnessed where necessary. We also take care of sending some preliminary information to the people you’ve chosen as decision-makers – only with your permission of course.
All our clients have a 3-month window after that to make any changes. Because you’ll think of something – at 2 am – that causes you to want to make a little tweak here or there. Or sometimes, in rare cases, the person you’ve named has a change of heart, and they’re no longer Right for Right Now. Better to know that up front than when you need that person to step up.
Finally, you want to make sure to revisit your decisions periodically to make sure they’re still Right for Right Now. It takes less time to update your Good Guardian Plan than it does to create it. And don’t think that because your window is small, that it’s closed. I learned on November 13th that I’d be having surgery on November 20th. On November 16 – I updated my plan so that if this surgery turned into a health crisis, I wasn’t going to be a burden on my family.
For more information about this common planning goal, we’ve got you covered with a virtual workshop on Thursday, February 8th at 7 pm. It’s a webinar you can participate in, simply and easily from home. No one will see you. You can be in your pajamas, and no one will know.
After this hour-ish long virtual workshop, you’ll get unstuck, understand the five most common planning goals and exactly how to accomplish them, recognize that the planning process doesn’t take a lot of time, and see exactly what you should do next to keep the momentum going toward finally getting your Good Guardian Plan completed.
CLICK HERE – You can and should be a Good Guardian to your family now.
If you don’t have an adequate Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, your family is dealing with a health crisis AND a legal crisis. (And that is being a burden – yuck! Don’t do that!)
Remember, life happens! So make sure to check out our next live virtual training to understand exactly what to do next to get your plan into place – before a health crisis.