It was a typical morning at Ellen’s house – find husband David’s socks, make breakfast, get the kids to school, and get to work on time. Stuck in traffic, Ellen focused on the day ahead. “What should I make for dinner?” she wondered. “Oh gosh, I’ll need to stop at the store.” Ellen’s efficient mind began making a list of needed items as she turned the radio to her favorite news station.
“Are you really prepared to protect your family’s future?” the adman’s voice boomed.
Suddenly, it hit Ellen. “Why am I better prepared to buy groceries than I am to protect my family’s future?” Ellen worried who would make medical decisions if something were to happen to her and David. And who would watch over the kids? She imagined a devastating courtroom scenario, the judge banging his gavel down as he callously assigned her children to the care of a stranger, all because she and David hadn’t prepared properly.
A horn beeped loudly, jolting Ellen back to the present. “I’ve got to do something!” she said out loud. Arriving at her desk, she immediately called an estate planning attorney to schedule a consultation and get answers to her top 3 estate planning concerns.
The cornerstone of David and Ellen’s estate planning is the Advanced Directive. This is a set of written instructions expressing the type of medical treatment you would want, or designating someone to make your medical decisions, if you cannot express your wishes. Without an advanced medical directive, your medical care providers must continue prolonging your life, by artificial means if needed.
One part of the advanced directive documents is the living will, in which you approve or decline specific types of medical care, even if your choice may result in death. Generally, a living will takes effect when you are terminally ill or injured.
A durable power of attorney designates someone you trust to pay daily expenses, collect benefits, file taxes and keep an eye on your investments.
The durable power of attorney for health care appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, receiving information from your healthcare team and giving or withholding consent for your treatment.
A Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR) informs medical personnel as to your wishes for receiving CPR should you go into cardiac arrest, whether while hospitalized or not.
Ellen still wondered who would care for her children if neither David nor she were able. The attorney advised appointing a legal guardian as part of the Durable Power of Attorney and their Last Will and Testament. When a legal guardian has not been appointed, the court will decide in the best interests of the children. And while the guardian is obligated to act in the best interest of the children, making important medical care and education decisions until each child reaches age 18, this is not a decision parents should leave to the courts.
To learn more about these very important estate planning decisions in Missouri, contact the knowledgeable attorneys of Quinn Estste & Elder Law.