If you or someone you love are living with a chronic illness, each day presents challenges. Navigating life with a chronic disease is not easy, and the pain and suffering that are caused by the illness don’t make things any easier. Many people live with one or more chronic diseases as they age. Approximately one-fourth of adults ages sixty-five to seventy-five have experienced a chronic illness of one kind or another. What some people living with chronic illness may not know is that estate planning can help you manage life with a chronic illness.
Some of the documents you can create during the estate planning process include plans for health care and financial decisions if you cannot make those decisions for yourself. Likewise, if a family member is living with a chronic illness, those documents, if they choose to create them, can help those who are caring for them know what decisions they want to be made, and by whom. Since many chronic illnesses can eventually lead to cognitive impairment, it is wise to create an estate plan, including health care and financial powers of attorney, as soon as possible after your diagnosis so that everything will be in place before there’s a chance of cognitive impairment getting in the way of making those plans.
When you prepare your health care power of attorney, go into as much detail as you wish regarding willingness to participate in experimental treatments, organ and tissue donation, and other topics that are relevant to your particular illness or illnesses. Likewise, financial powers of attorney can be as general or as specific as you need them to be. Your attorney can help you write language into each of these documents that will enable them to function in the ways that you would want them to if they are ever needed. You can also update the documents with your attorney’s help in the event that your circumstances change and you need to add or change the language in the documents to address those changes.
If you have a chronic illness, you might want to add a HIPAA release form to your estate plan. With that form, you can grant selected individuals access to your health care records so that they can have the information that they will need when they are interacting with your health care providers and helping you manage your care.
Also, as you receive care from various providers during your illness, you may have to fill out many forms at your office visits. Read each one carefully, and ask for help understanding the forms if you are not sure what they are asking you to authorize. If you find that the forms are often hard to understand, bring along a family member or trusted friend to help you read the forms.
Your estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that addresses your specific concerns about your chronic illness. Wichita estate planning attorney J. Joseph Weber is here to serve you. Call us to reserve an appointment today at 316-265-7802, or contact us online.