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Demographics and Documents

I have been blessed over the last thirty years to have long lasting relationships with my clients.  I have been reminded many times by clients that we started working together in my early to mid-twenties.  Needless to say we are all older.

America is going through a huge demographic shift in age.  According to the Population Reference Bureau,  the amount of Americans that are 65 or older will double by 2060.  This demographic shift will change our society.  It will put a tremendous strain on our Medicare and Social Security.

All of our families will have to deal with the care of the elderly either as a recipient or a caregiver as well as end of life issues.  This brings up the logistics of care.

There are certain documents that make life so much easier for both parties.  Due to the aging demographics of our practice,  we encounter these documents or the need for these documents on a regular basis.

According to caring.com,  your loved ones should have  the following:

  1. A medical directive (also known as a living will): 

This establishes the kind of care the person wants to receive if they become incapacitated.

  1. A durable health care power of attorney and HIPAA release

This allows your appointed person to make health care decisions for you and also give access to medical records.

  1. A durable power of attorney

This allows someone to manage your finances for you.

  1. A Will or Living Trust

While the primary focus has always been on item 4,  in our practice,  we see that the first three documents make life so much easier for the caregiver and loved one during the stressful time of medical care.

If you do not have these documents,  I would encourage you to get with your attorney and address this.  In addition, from personal observation,  don’t just execute the documents and put them away.  If you name a person or persons to take care of you,  they need to know that they have been chosen to fill this capacity and they need a copy of these documents.  If you have an accident and cannot communicate, the person that you chose as caregiver may not know that you have these documents or their location.

In addition, your appointed person needs to know some general things about your financial life and doctors so they can execute their job efficiently and for your benefit.

While we tend to focus on these documents as we get older, there is another demographic group that needs to address these issues: college kids and young singles.

While they will always be our children, in the eyes of the law they are adults and have all of the protections of privacy due to them regardless of your status as their parent.  If you have a child in college or a single child in adulthood,  this topic should be addressed.

In a recent Forbes article,  an attorney from Pittsburgh, PA encountered the need for these documents when their college-aged child was injured on a spring break trip.  When the parents arrived at the hospital,  the doctors refused to discuss their son’s medical issues with them due to privacy laws.

Old or young,  speak to your attorney on this issue.  As always,  we are here to discuss your situation with you and refer you to an attorney if you do not currently have one.