Archive for Persistent Vegetative State
Thanksgiving: A Time for More than “Talking Turkey”
In 1621, Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. This is generally acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies (although Native American groups are believed to have organized harvest festivals and other celebrations of thanks centuries before the arrival of Europeans). And while days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states in the years that followed, it was not until 1863 that President Lincoln formally proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be held on the last Thursday in November.
For many Americans today, Thanksgiving is a time to put aside worries about work and calories, try to make the best of having to watch the Detroit Lions attempt yet again to play professional football, and focus on what matters most in life: FAMILY.
At Cramer Law Center, P.L., we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving. And, because we are estate planning attorneys who care about you and your family, we can’t help but use this opportunity to remind you of something important: Thanksgiving, with the family gathered round, is an ideal time for everyone to talk with each other about their healthcare wishes. We know that having this conversation may be difficult, but it is truly necessary.
By explaining your feelings to your loved ones, you spare them the stress and pain of having to make such decisions on their own, without the benefit of your insight. In effect, sharing your feelings, goals and wishes in advance, as best you can, is a way for you to show your love for your family and concern over their emotional well-being.
So now you’re convinced, but you don’t know how you’d begin the conversation? You can always blame it on us. (“My attorney really wants me to talk with you about this …”) We’re happy to take the rap.
We hope that this Thanksgiving is one of the best ever for you and the rest of your family. And if you want to speak to those closest to you about your healthcare wishes but want a different way to start, we can show you other ways to begin the conversation. Chances are, you will find that it is not as difficult as you imagine, and will actually draw your family closer together.
Be safe and have a wonderful holiday!
Jeff, Melinda, and Val
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – DISABILITY PLANNING
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has authored a compelling Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times arguing that this country needs to make a greater financial commitment to finding medicines that will delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or, better yet, cure it. The likelihood that a person will develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia doubles every 5 years after age 65. One of every two persons over age 85 is afflicted. This disease is 100% incurable and robs people of their memory, judgment and dignity. It depletes families both emotionally and financially.
By 2050, it is estimated that 13.5 million Americans will be stricken by this disease. We are sure that you will agree that developing a well designed and adequately funded national strategic plan to combat this disease is necessary.
In the meantime, we continue to urge everyone to make both financial and legal plans to deal with this eventuality. The comfort and dignity of you and your loved ones can be maximized by proper planning. By preparing, in advance, detailed instructions to your caregivers on matters of daily living that are important to the preservation of your dignity, you can make a substantial difference in your quality of life if suffering from dementia. Examples of small things like indicating your favorite foods or whether you like the room temperature warm or cool can make a large difference. We can help with both the legal and personal planning. I also am available if you just want to talk. In addition to my professional experience, my 86 year old mother has dementia and I have been through some of the stress and anguish which accompanies this disease.
BACK TO SCHOOL
It’s back to school time again. Do you have a college student getting ready to leave home? What about a niece, nephew, or neighbor that is ready to begin the college journey?
Now that these “children” are considered adults in the eyes of the law, there are protections you should consider implementing so that you can still speak with their doctors. You or other loved ones may not have access to medical information or treatment plans, even in the event of an emergency. An effective way to address this challenge is to have the student sign advance health care directives (Designation of Health Care Surrogate and HIPAA release) before the student leaves home. Equally important is that the documents are readily accessible to parents and health care providers.
The process is simple and will take only a few minutes to ensure family access to medical information. Our program for college students offers the following benefits:
1. Designation of Health Care Surrogate appointing someone to make medical decisions in case of the student’s inability to do so (typically the student’s parent or parents).
2. HIPAA Release detailing who should be allowed to have access to medical records and be able to speak with physicians about treatment and status.
3. Enrollment in the DocuBank I.C.E. (in case of emergency) program a national health care document storage and recovery system that provides ready access to the documents by medical professionals on a 24/7 basis.
4. Wallet Card for the student that includes how to access their health care documents and emergency contact information.
5. Alerts for medical professionals of allergies and medical conditions your child may have.
If you are interested in this program, please contact us at (904) 448-9978 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $250 for the first child and $150 for each additional child in the same family. This includes enrollment in the I.C.E. program for a full four years.
Our thoughts are with all of our families sending students to college, particularly those who are leaving the nest for the first time.
Family Feud: Costly in Guardianship Court
Families that have not done proper Estate Planning often end up in Guardianship Court. Without proper documents, when a loved one is no longer able to care for himself or herself, someone else must use the court system to become his or her legal Guardian in order to make medical and financial decisions for that incapacitated person. The Guardianship process itself is public, time-consuming, and expensive, even if matters are uncontested. However, if the court becomes a stage for a “family feud,” both the emotional and financial costs can skyrocket.
Typically, there are at least two attorneys involved in the Guardianship proceeding. The person petitioning to become the guardian is required to have an attorney. Additionally, the person who is alleged to be incapacitated (the “ward”) is appointed an attorney by the court, to protect his or her interests. If several family members vie to become the guardian (such as siblings fighting over a parent), the number of attorneys involved and resulting expense is multiplied. Such family in-fighting also takes an emotional toll on the participants.
The upshot of many guardianship family feuds is that the Judge will decide not to appoint any family member as guardian, but instead will appoint a neutral, “Professional Guardian.” The costs of providing that neutral perspective will be $85 – $100 per hour (in the Jacksonville, FL area), for each hour of the Professional Guardian’s services. Of course, the Professional Guardian also will need to hire her own attorney, to be paid for out of the guardianship estate. Unfortunately, we have seen horrible results from family feuds. No one wins when families quarrel in open court.
Don’t let this to happen to your family!