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John Bullis: Power of attorney for health care planning

John Bullis

“Planning in advance for how we want to be cared for as we age should be an ongoing process, and continued until the need for care arises. Health care decisions should be an individual’s right.” — John M. Parr, JD

Many decisions need to be made — Who will care for us? How much should be done to prolong life? Will I have enough to pay for the care?

Your Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, also known as an Advanced Directive, needs to be done carefully and reviewed at least every two years.

Various studies have found many patients fail to do the form and many do not seem to understand what it really means.

We all need to plan for the progression of our illness since it changes over time. We will probably suffer a decline in our health as time goes by. We need to understand the legal terms in the document as well as the medical terms.

My form says, “I designate XX as my Healthcare Representative, giving power to make decisions with regard to my health care if and when I am unable to make my own health care decisions … If XX is unwilling or unable to serve, I designate YYY and ZZZ to serve. The authority does not terminate if I become disabled or incapacitated …”

Then it gives details of what treatment is and is not to be done. It authorizes anatomical gifts and waives the privacy of health care information. The six pages are full of special provisions and my signature is notarized. It was prepared by an attorney with my full cooperation and directions.

The financing of the care will be partly paid by the Long Term Care Insurance policy that was begun years ago and I still pay the premiums quarterly. If I was doing the Long Term Care Insurance now, I would probably try to get the Life Insurance policy that has a Long Term Care provision (rider). Then if I didn’t use any or all of the long term care benefit, my heirs would get the death benefit (life insurance proceeds).

It’s good to give copies of the form to the persons named so they know and understand what’s desired and what’s not to be done. That might even encourage them to get their own Power of Attorney forms prepared. We should talk about the basic goals and desires with our designated healthcare representatives.

Many folks have a reluctance to take care of this topic. It’s important to make an appointment with your attorney and get this form done correctly — today.

Did you hear? “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” — Maya Angelou

John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.