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  • Marla Roeser

What Happens If You Get Really Sick? Legal Documents That Help Care For You And Your Loved Ones

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

In the event you are disabled, incapacitated or incompetent, who is going to manage your healthcare decisions and finances? If you are at the end stage of life, are there special instructions you want carried out if you can’t communicate them yourself? And if you have minor children, who takes care of them if you can’t? Planning for your incapacity can be more important to your loved ones

than planning for your death.

The following documents are essential in planning for incapacity:

Healthcare Power of Attorney: If the event you can’t make your own healthcare decisions, you can assign an agent to make those decisions for you and allow them to have access to relevant healthcare information typically protected under HIPPA privacy restrictions. I advise my clients to select someone (and backups) who will be an advocate for you and who you trust to carry out your wishes.

Financial Power of Attorney: Who will pay your bills in the event you can’t because you are too ill or injured? You can assign an agent to act as you in the event you are incapacitated. This agent (and backup) should be someone you trust because your agent will be able to make real estate transactions, contract on your behalf, buy, sell and exchange securities, access your bank accounts and insurance and so much more.

Living Will or Advance Directive: In the worst-case scenario and doctors have determined you are at your end stage of life with no chance to recover, you can provide specific instructions as to how you want to be cared for. You can predetermine if and when lifesaving interventions (such as ventilators, CPR, etc.), nutrition, hydration, and pain medication are administered to you.

Care of Your Minor Children: If you aren’t able to care for your minor children temporarily, wouldn’t you like to decide who does. Maryland offers a standby guardianship that allows parents to name a guardian for their kids that is effective for six months and allows the guardian to make educational, healthcare, financial decisions and more for your children.

With the exception of signing the documents, estate planning can be done virtually. If you don’t have the above documents, it isn’t too late to get them. While the future is unpredictable, knowing your plan is in place can be of some comfort.

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