Planning a Family Meeting to Discuss Caregiving

 

Planning a Family Meeting to Discuss Caregiving

 

 

 

When taking care of an elderly parent or another relative, family members need to work cooperatively. The more people participating in care, the less alone a caregiver feels in his/her role. Books and articles about caregiving often mention the family meeting as a way to facilitate this process.

 

But how does one go about having such a meeting?

 

 

Each family is different. In some families, only a husband/wife and their children are considered “family.” In other families, aunts, uncles, cousins, current and ex-in laws and close friends may be included in the definition of family. When planning a family meeting, it is important to include everyone who is or will be part of the caregiving team, and this may include a family friend, neighbor or paid caregiver.

 

 

 

It is also sometimes helpful to engage the help of an outside facilitator, such as a social worker or minister to help the family communicate about difficult subjects during the meeting. (This is discussed in more detail below.)

 

A decision must also be made about whether or not to include the ill family member in the meeting. Family members usually do not want to be excluded from family events and their preferences for care must be considered. However, if someone has dementia or another condition where he/she might misunderstand the purpose of the meeting, it might be appropriate to hold at least the first meeting without him/her present. Also, other family members may need to share with each other thoughts or feelings that would be painful for the ill person to hear. Consider holding one meeting to focus on those matters, and holding a second meeting with the ill person present.

 

Communication is the key to working successfully with a group of people. If it’s difficult for some family members to travel to the location of the meeting, technology can help: a conference call or the use of a speaker phone can make it easier for them to participate. A videotape or an audiotape of the meeting can also be sent out to all family members who are unable to attend. With the use of email, even those who are not nearby can also be kept up to date on how things are going.

 

Prior to a meeting, you’ll find it helpful to prepare an agenda. Someone in the family will generally introduce the idea of a meeting and arrange the date and location. That person can also create an agenda for the meeting and send it out to all the family members ahead of time. Family members can then share their ideas and suggest other items to include.

 

 

 

An agenda might include topics such as:

 

 

  • The latest report from the physician
  • Sharing of feelings about the illness/caregiving

 

Fears: 

  • About death and dying 
  • About being overwhelmed 
  • About what will happen to family members after the death 

 

 

  • Sadness, confusion, anger, guilt, shame 
  • What does the person who is ill want and need? 

 

 

Daily caregiving needs:

 

  • Should the sick person move in with us? 
  • Does she/he need to be in an assisted living facility or nursing home? 
  • How much time does each family member have to visit? 
  • Other ways each person can help? What other help might be available? 

 

 

 

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Financial concerns:

 

  • How much will it cost? 
  • How much work can family members afford to miss? 
  • What financial help might be available from outside? 
  • Who will make decisions (e.g., financial, medical, hiring a caregiver, etc.) and how will they be made? 

 

 

  • What support role does each person want to play? 
  • What sort of support does the primary caregiver need? 
  • Need for respite (a break from caregiving)
  • Help with meals, shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc. 
  • Emotional support by telephone or email 
  • Help with chores—i.e., taking the care recipient to doctor’s appointments 
  • How will the caregiving and support needs change as the illness progresses? 
  • Problem Solving 
  • List of tasks that need doing 
  • Summary of meeting and schedule for next meeting 
  • Written summary of what each person has agreed to 
  • Email or telephone tree for regular updates

 

It will probably be difficult to cover all these issues in one meeting, so additional meetings will be helpful. Each ensuing meeting should have a clear time table and a definite beginning and ending time. Be sure to stick to the time table; if meetings get to be too long, fatigue sets in, minds will wander, and people may resist coming to future meetings.

 

As with all high-level negotiations, deciding where to hold the meeting is as potentially controversial as the meeting itself. Whether you hold it in an office, a restaurant or someone’s home, keep in mind that you want a setting that the majority of the participants will find comfortable and convenient and that presents as few distractions as possible (e.g. noise, small children who need attention, etc.).

 

 

A successful family meeting gives everyone a chance to be heard. All feelings are appropriate and need to be expressed and acknowledged. People will be more willing to talk about their feelings regarding the situation if they feel safe. For example, the brother who is never present may reveal that he is unable to stand seeing someone sick, and the sister who is doing all the work may not realize how she pushes others away when they offer to help. Another sibling may be having marital problems which he or she has not yet shared with the family, and yet another sibling might be worried about losing a job. Each person needs to balance his/her own fears, concern, love and desire to help with available time, strengths, weaknesses and hopes.

 

Until the depth and breadth of the issues concerning the ill family member are explored, it is important to not try to solve the problems. Recording the problems in a list as they are shared, however, will be useful during the problem-solving portion of the meeting.

 

 

It is important for each family member to learn to use “I” messages, as well to say “I need…” rather than “You should…” Even when disagreeing, try to find the part of what is said that you can agree with. The goal of the meeting is to work as a team in caring for the person who is ill, even if there is conflict among family members in other areas.

 

At the conclusion of the meeting, make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the issues and considerations discussed. When the solutions to issues have been established, make sure that each person understands what he/she has agreed to do.

 

The most important thing for family members to remember is that the meeting is not a one-time event. Family meetings need to take place regularly. It is helpful to schedule them at a given time, perhaps at the same time each month. However, if this is not possible, they at least need to take place when the caregiving situation or other situations in family members lives change. Holding regular meetings puts less pressure on family members to get everything resolved in just one meeting, and allows more time for processing of information and decision-making. When a family member is unable to attend a meeting, keep in touch with them by phone, mail or email.

 

Families come with history: a history of how each person relates to the others, a history of what role each person has played and currently plays within the family, a history of how each person feels toward the person who is sick, and a history of how each person deals with illness and adversity. And in each family there are rules about what can and cannot be said, what emotions are okay and not okay to express. These factors can make family meetings difficult. This is why a third party facilitator can be helpful.

 

Family members play roles based on position in the family, relationship to the person who is ill, special talents, etc. The person who is the caregiver may be different from the one who handles the money, who may be different from the person who is the information gatherer, who is different from the one who is the decision maker or the one who has some medical background. One person might play several roles. Also, often someone is the “blamer,” and someone else the “blamed.” One person may try to make peace, and another may try to sabotage the process. There will be secrets, old family rivalries, guilt, unequal burdens, differing investments, values and interests. Some will worry about past promises and about someone else not pulling his/her own weight. Everyone will need attention, power, love, control, and appreciation. It can help to acknowledge that there is probably no fair distribution of work and trying to make it even will fail.

 

A narrow focus for each meeting can help alleviate some of the pitfalls. Still, you will have to deal with some of the difficult issues when they get in the way of cooperation. Remember that you can’t resolve long-standing family issues with one such meeting. The task is not to “fix” the family, but rather to have everyone on the same team, as much as possible, in caring for someone who is ill.

 

If alcohol will detract from the main focus of the meeting or will lead to conflict, it is better not to offer it. However, each family has different ways of communicating, and in some families a drink may make everyone more comfortable and more able to talk. In any case, over-consumption should be avoided.

 

 

Consensus

 

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Not all the issues inherent in caregiving and decision-making can be solved; sometimes it is important to accept approximations of a good solution. Try to work toward consensus building. Change happens slowly, but when families meet regularly, the seeds that are planted can grow into more productive solutions. Often things do not change until there is a crisis, but the work that has been done during the family meeting will make decision-making easier when the crisis does come. Agreements can be made on a time-limited basis to see if the agreed-upon action will work. Future meetings can be used to evaluate these trials and revise them as necessary.

 

Respecting each person’s individuality and situation helps to create an atmosphere of acceptance and allows for creative solutions to problems. For example, Carol finds it difficult to be around sick people, so when her brother got lung cancer, she knew she couldn’t take care of him. However, she was more than willing to make the pastas of their native Italy and take them to him to comfort him during his illness. Jesse lives a thousand miles away, but can get time off from work to be with her mother while her brother and his family take a vacation. When Ed’s mother had surgery, Ed arranged to take care of his father with Alzheimer’s, while his sister worked full time and helped with the expenses. Gina takes her parents to medical appointments while her sister makes sure they get their medicines properly every night.

 

 

Compromise

 

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In order for these solutions to work, people have to learn to compromise. By being open to alternatives, you might get part—although maybe not all—of what you want or need. We often hold out for only one solution to a problem, we don’t consider other possibilities that could assist us. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do. Learning to graciously receive help offered can also be a struggle, not only for the person who is sick, but also for the person who is the primary caregiver. Being appreciative is the best reward you can give someone who is trying to help you, even if the type of help he/she is offering isn’t exactly what you wanted. When you make someone feel good about helping, he/she will want to help again. “Thank you” will take you a long way in working together. In creating the caregiving team, think about how each person should be acknowledged.

 

 

Put it in writing:

 

 

A written agreement capturing the decisions and agreements made at the end of the meeting can be a helpful reminder for family members. Distributing a calendar with different days marked with responsibilities and commitments can also help each person honor the agreements made.

 

Although family meetings can be powerful and effective ways to connect and work with family members, they cannot magically solve all the problems of caring for an ill family member. When families have trouble working together or coming to agreements or when the family is divided on a big issue, it often helps to invite a neutral outside facilitator to attend. Sometimes a crisis precipitates the need for a meeting—perhaps someone is in the hospital and major life and death decisions need to be made. Time can be of the essence. Whatever work you have done together earlier will help you at these times of extreme stress.

 

Social workers from local caregiver organizations (such as Caregiver Resource Centers in California), as well as ministers, private case managers, social workers in home health or hospice, physicians, discharge planners in hospitals and nursing homes can help facilitate a family meeting or refer you to someone who can. Psychotherapists in private practice are trained in family counseling. If you find yourself in a difficult position, you might also want to see a psychotherapist privately. Don’t forget the support you can find with friends, colleagues and support groups. Sharing experiences with other caregivers can help ease the feelings and frustrations often involved in being a caregiver.

 

Sources:

Share the Care, Cappy Capossela, Sheila Warnock, Simon and Schuster, 1995.

I’ll Take Care of You, Joseph Ilardo, Carole Rothman, New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 1999.

Taking Care of Aging Family Members, Wendy Lustbader, Nancy Hooyman, The Free Press, 1994.

The Caregiver Helpbook, Vicki Schmall, Marilyn Cleland, Marilynn Sturdevant, Legacy Health System, 2000.

How to Care for Aging Parents, Virginia Morris, Workman Publishing, 1996.

 

 

Recommended:

How to Care for Aging Parents – A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing and Emotional Issues

 

How to Care for Aging Parents, 3rd Edition: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues by [Morris, Virginia]

 

 

 

Also Very Helpful:

The Caregiver’s Toolbox – Checklists, Forms, Resources, Mobile Apps and Straight Talk to Help You Provide Compassionate Care

 

The Caregiver's Toolbox: Checklists, Forms, Resources, Mobile Apps, and Straight Talk to Help You Provide Compassionate Care by [Hartley, Carolyn P., Wong, Peter]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Caregiver’s Guide to Assisting With Open Enrollment

Caregiver’s Guide to Assisting With Open Enrollment

 

 

 

It’s that time of year! From October 15 until December 7, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to change their choices for Part D (prescription drug) coverage, enroll in or change a Medicare Advantage plan, and (in certain circumstances) possibly change Medigap plans.

 

 

 

 

Just writing that sentence can give one a knot in the stomach. Too many choices, not enough information. Where should you begin?

 

 

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The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is an annual period of time (October 15 through December 7) when current Medicare users can choose to re-evaluate part of their Medicare coverage (their Medicare Advantage and/or Part D plan) and compare it against all the other plans on the market. After re-evaluating, if you find a plan that is a better fit for your needs, you can then switch to, drop or add a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. Medicare Advantage is also known as a “Part C” plan.

 

 

Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that have contracts with Medicare. When you join one, you get your Medicare-covered healthcare services through the private plan.

 

 

 

 

If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare. You’ll get your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgently needed care.

 

The plan can choose not to cover the costs of services that aren’t medically necessary under Medicare. If you’re not sure whether a service is covered, check with your provider before you get the service.

Medicare Advantage Plans may offer extra coverage, like vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay a monthly premium for the Medicare Advantage Plan.

 

First, your care recipient should have received an annual notice from the companies that are supplying their coverage. Some of the packages look overwhelming and one just longs to discard them. But wait. At least take out the thinner booklet–the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)–and look at the first few pages.

 

Is the plan premium going up? If so, is it going up a LOT? If the increase is 10% or higher, that indicates that there may be a better alternative out there.

 

What about the deductible? If it used to be zero, and now it’s not, that’s another indication that you may want to think about changes. The more difficult information to assess is changes in the drug premiums.

 

When you opened your packet, you saw the company had added another “tier” to the generic drugs. Your care recipient takes generic drugs. How will this affect them?

 

 

 

Is your loved one in a Part C/Medicare Advantage/ Managed Care plan? Do you have any idea what you paid out in copays this year? Were there unexpected expenses that the plan did NOT pay? Are they likely to recur? You may want to consider changing to a Medigap plan with fixed costs.

 

Conversely, are you paying for a Medigap plan, but your loved one has few, if any, physician visits, except annual wellness checks and preventive benefits? If your relative lives in the same area year-round, you may want to investigate Medicare Advantage plans with lower premiums and possible additional benefits like hearing and vision assistance.

It is wise to assess these things each and every year. But if you haven’t reassessed in at least three years, you need to think about having a “checkup.” A number of options exist:

 

  • Access free professional advice about Open Enrollment from a licensed benefits advisor.

 

  • Find a State Health Assistance Insurance Program (SHIP) counselor in your region. SHIP provides free, federally funded one-on-one Medicare counseling. You can visit the SHIP website or call their toll-free number at 1-877-839-2675. However, be forewarned—it is often difficult to access this program during the Open Enrollment period. This is a particularly busy time of year for SHIP so be patient with the office and be sure to call as early as October 1 for an appointment. You can also call your local “Area Agency on Aging” and ask if they are hosting any public information sessions about Open Enrollment that you can attend. This will provide you with a helpful intro to the topic, and you may even be able to ask questions publicly and privately.

 

 

SHIP volunteers and staff provide free, objective information and assistance to people with Medicare and their families, by telephone and sometimes in face-to-face sessions. If you are likely eligible for extra assistance such as Medicare Savings Programs or Medicare Part D Extra Help, the SHIP is often particularly helpful because they may be able to help you apply for these extra benefits.

 

Your SHIP can help you:

 

  • decide when and how to get your Medicare coverage
  • compare various options for receiving your Medicare benefits
  • review situations involving both Medicare and your state’s Medicaid program
  • decide if you need additional coverage or different coverage
  • determine if you already have other health benefits in addition to or instead of Medicare
  • compare various ways for you to supplement your Medicare benefits and, in some states, help you compare benefits and costs of specific plans

 

You can also call  1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), the Medicare program’s toll-free number. You may have to wait. Try to call during “off hours.” Once you get an advisor, make sure that they tell you what your loved one’s “saved drug ID” and “password date” are so that you can use this information to do your own research on whether their drug formulary has changed.

 

*In most cases, you won’t have a right under Federal law to switch Medigap policies unless you’re eligible under a specific circumstance or guaranteed issue rights or you’re within your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment period.

By law, when you buy a Medigap policy, you have a 30-day “free look” or trial period. If you change your mind within 30 days of the day your policy started, you can cancel it and get a refund.

If you are switching Medigap plans, do not cancel your first policy until after your free look period is up. You may have to pay two premiums for 1 month. But you will be able to change back to your first plan if you need to.

Your state may, however, have expanded these rights.  Consult your state health insurance department to learn the rules in your area.

 

 

 

 

Recommended: Medicare for Dummies, 2nd Edition

In plain language, the new edition explains:

  • How to qualify for Medicare, according to your personal circumstances, including new information on the rights of people in same-sex marriages
  • When to sign up at the time that’s right for you, to avoid lifelong late penalties
  • How to weigh Medicare’s many options so you can be confident of making the decision that’s best for you
  • What Medicare covers and what you pay, with up-to-date details of the costs of premiums, deductibles, and copays—and how you may be able to reduce those expenses

 

 

 

 

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Best Hearing Amplifiers Reviewed

Be Aware of Bone Diseases in the Elderly

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Choosing a Shower Chair or Bath Bench

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

 

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FBI Warning: Seniors Getting Scammed!

Seniors Are Getting Scammed

Older adults get scammed out of $36 billion each year. Even worse, most of this money can never be recovered. Fraudsters are stealing hard-earned savings and ruining seniors’ lives.

 

Being aware of popular senior scams helps you protect your older adult from losing money to these thieves. Here, I’ve summarized advice from the FBI about common senior scams and tips to protect against them.

 

Talk with your older adult about these scams and let them know about the warning signs. It’s better to be safe than sorry – emphasize that they’re not being rude for refusing to speak with a potential scammer. Since stolen money isn’t likely to be recovered, the key is to shut down the scams before they can do any damage.

 

Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:

 

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.

 

  • People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.

 

  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.

 

  • When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.

 

  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.

 

 

What to Look For and How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

 

Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud

 

Medical Equipment Fraud:

In this fraud, equipment manufacturers offer “free” products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered.

 

“Rolling Lab” Schemes:

Unnecessary and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and billed to insurance companies or Medicare.

 

Services Not Performed:

Customers or providers bill insurers for services never rendered by changing bills or submitting fake ones.

 

 

Medicare Fraud:

Medicare fraud can take the form of any of the health insurance frauds described above. Senior citizens are frequent targets of Medicare schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare numbers.

Because a physician has to sign a form certifying that equipment or testing is needed before Medicare pays for it, con artists fake signatures or bribe corrupt doctors to sign the forms. Once a signature is in place, the manufacturers bill Medicare for merchandise or service that was not needed or not ordered.

 

Tips for Avoiding Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud:

 

 

  • Never sign blank insurance claim forms.

 

  • Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.

 

  • Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.

 

  • Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.

 

  • Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that medical services or equipment are free.

 

  • Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.

 

  • Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.

 

  • Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.

 

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

 

Tips for Avoiding Counterfeit Prescription Drugs:

 

  • Be mindful of appearance—closely examine the packaging and lot numbers of prescription drugs and be alert to any changes from one prescription to the next.

 

 

  • Consult your pharmacist or physician if your prescription drug looks suspicious.

 

  • Alert your pharmacist and physician immediately if your medication causes adverse side effects or if your condition does not improve.

 

  • Use caution when purchasing drugs on the Internet. Do not purchase medications from unlicensed online distributors or those who sell medications without a prescription. Reputable online pharmacies will have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), provided by the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States.

 

  • Be aware that product promotions or cost reductions and other “special deals” may be associated with counterfeit product promotion.

 

 

Funeral and Cemetery Fraud

 

 

Tips for Avoiding Funeral and Cemetery Fraud:

 

  • Be an informed consumer. Take time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help make difficult decisions. Funeral homes are required to provide detailed general price lists over the telephone or in writing.

 

  • Educate yourself fully about caskets before you buy one, and understand that caskets are not required for direct cremations.

 

  • Understand the difference between funeral home basic fees for professional services and any fees for additional services.

 

  • Know that embalming rules are governed by state law and that embalming is not legally required for direct cremations.

 

  • Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing, and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.

 

  • Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms, as well as your portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.

 

  • Before you consider prepaying, make sure you are well informed. When you do make a plan for yourself, share your specific wishes with those close to you.

 

  • As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

 

 

Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products

 

 

Tips for Avoiding Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products:

 

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for “secret formulas” or “breakthroughs.”

 

 

 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the product—find out exactly what it should and should not do for you.

 

  • Research a product thoroughly before buying it. Call the Better Business Bureau to find out if other people have complained about the product.

 

  • Be wary of products that claim to cure a wide variety of illnesses—particularly serious ones—that don’t appear to be related.

 

  • Be aware that testimonials and/or celebrity endorsements are often misleading.

 

  • Be very careful of products that are marketed as having no side effects.

 

  • Question products that are advertised as making visits to a physician unnecessary.

 

  • Always consult your doctor before taking any dietary or nutritional supplement.

 

 

Telemarketing Fraud

 

If you are age 60 or older—and especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products, and inexpensive vacations.

 

There are warning signs to these scams. If you hear these—or similar—phrases from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you” and hang up the telephone:

 

  • “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.”

 

  • “You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.

  • “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.

 

  • “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone, including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.

 

  • “You don’t need any written information about the company or its references.”

 

  • “You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”

 

Tips for Avoiding Telemarketing Fraud:

 

 

 

It is very difficult to get your money back if you have been cheated over the telephone. Before you buy anything by telephone, remember:

 

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.

 

  • Always ask for, and wait until you receive, written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But beware, not everything written down is true, unfortunately.

 

  • Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.

 

  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers—verify the accuracy of these items.

 

  • Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.

 

  • Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question: “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”

 

  • Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay only after they are delivered.

 

  • Be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.

 

  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.

 

  • Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.

 

  • Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are—for example, the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out over the telephone.

 

  • Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. It is never rude to wait and think about an offer.

 

  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.

 

  • Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.

 

  • Be aware that your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.

 

  • If you have been victimized once, be wary of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.

 

  • If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

 

 

Internet Fraud

 

As web use among senior citizens increases, so does their chances to fall victim to Internet fraud. Internet Fraud includes non-delivery of items ordered online and credit and debit card scams. Please visit the FBI’s Internet Fraud webpage for details about these crimes and tips for protecting yourself from them.

 

 

Investment Schemes

 

 

As they plan for retirement, senior citizens may fall victim to investment schemes. These may include advance fee schemes, prime bank note schemes, pyramid schemes, and Nigerian letter fraud schemes.

Nigerian Letter or “419” Fraud

 

Nigerian letter frauds combine the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter mailed, or e-mailed, from Nigeria offers the recipient the “opportunity” to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author—a self-proclaimed government official—is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria.

 

The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationery, bank name and account numbers, and other identifying information using a fax number given in the letter or return e-mail address provided in the message.

 

The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim, who has demonstrated a “propensity for larceny” by responding to the invitation, to send money to the author of the letter in Nigeria in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

 

Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria.

 

In actuality, the millions of dollars do not exist, and the victim eventually ends up with nothing but loss.

 

Once the victim stops sending money, the perpetrators have been known to use the personal information and checks that they received to impersonate the victim, draining bank accounts and credit card balances.

 

While such an invitation impresses most law-abiding citizens as a laughable hoax, millions of dollars in losses are caused by these schemes annually. Some victims have been lured to Nigeria, where they have been imprisoned against their will along with losing large sums of money.

 

The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to victims of these schemes, since the victim actually conspires to remove funds from Nigeria in a manner that is contrary to Nigerian law.

 

The schemes themselves violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label “419 fraud.”

 

Tips for Avoiding Nigerian Letter or “419” Fraud:

 

  • If you receive a letter or e-mail from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter or message to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.

 

  • If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.

 

  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.

 

  • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.

 

  • Guard your account information carefully.

 

 

Reverse Mortgage Scams

 

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) urge consumers, especially senior citizens, to be vigilant when seeking reverse mortgage products. Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), have increased more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

 

Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.

 

In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams. Seniors are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.

 

A legitimate HECM loan product is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. It enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance. See the FBI/HUD Intelligence Bulletin for specific details on HECMs as well as other foreclosure rescue and investment schemes.

 

Tips for Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams:

 

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.

 

  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment.

 

  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.

 

  • Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.

 

  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor.

 

If you are a victim of this type of fraud and want to file a complaint, please submit information through the FBI’s electronic tip line or through your local FBI office. You may also file a complaint with HUD-OIG by calling HUD’s hotline at 1-800-347-3735.

 

Recommended:

“The bible of eldercare”—ABC World News. “An indispensable book”—AARP. “A compassionate guide of encyclopedic proportion”—The Washington Post. And, winner of a Books for a Better Life Award. How to Care for Aging Parents is the best and bestselling book of its kind, and its author, Virginia Morris, is the go-to person on eldercare for the media, appearing on Oprah, TODAY, and Good Morning America, among many other outlets.

How to Care for Aging Parents is an authoritative, clear, and comforting source of advice and support for the ever-growing number of Americans—now 42 million—who care for an elderly parent, relative, or friend. And now, in its third edition, it is completely overhauled and updated, chapter-by-chapter and page-by-page, with the most recent medical findings and recommendations. It includes a whole new chapter on fraud; details on the latest “aging in place” technologies; more helpful online resources; and everything you need to know about current laws and regulations. Also new are fill-in worksheets for gathering specifics on medications; caregivers’ names, schedules, and contact info; doctors’ phone numbers and addresses; and other essential information in one handy place at the back of the book.

From having that first difficult conversation to arranging a funeral and dealing with grief—and all of the other important issues in between—How to Care for Aging Parents is the essential guide. Read the reviews.

 

You may also be interested in:

Elder Abuse Questions and Answers

Easy Home First Aid Kit

Preparing For Your Elderly Parent to Move In

Be Aware of Bone Diseases in the Elderly

Convincing Your Parents to Transition to Assisted Living

Assisted Living Questions and Answers

First Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Burial or Funeral Insurance

 

An Introduction to Burial Insurance

 

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Funeral insurance, burial insurance, final expense insurance, preneed funeral insurance—these terms are often used interchangeably to talk about the same thing. With any of these types of insurance, money is paid out to a beneficiary to cover part or all of your funeral costs, including everything from traditional burial to cremation.

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Unlike other types of insurance, which are designed around a “what-if” scenario (what if I crash my car, what if I need to go to the doctor, what if my home catches on fire), burial insurance is a guaranteed pay out. As long as you keep current on your premiums or pay the amount required up front, this money will be available upon your eventual death.

What Burial Insurance Covers

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As the name suggests, burial insurance is most often used to pay for a burial. Because funerals can cost anywhere from $2,000 to up to $20,000, it’s rare for a family to have all of the money on hand at the time of a loved one’s death. Burial insurance takes the stress out of funeral planning by ensuring that the money is earmarked in advance.

However, one unique feature of burial insurance is that the funds don’t have to go 100 percent to funeral costs. In most cases, it pays out the same way a life insurance policy would, in that a lump sum is provided upon death. The idea is that the person named beneficiary will then use that money to pay for the funeral (as well as other final expenses like medical bills, hospice charges, estate fees, or to settle accounts in the name of the deceased).

Should you wish it, you can ensure that burial insurance goes directly toward your funeral by naming a funeral home as the beneficiary and signing a contract for future services. Like any other kind of pre-need arrangement, this provides a way for you to cover all costs in advance and to make sure your wishes are carried out.

 

Why Get Burial Insurance?

Most people who purchase funeral or burial insurance do so as part of their regular retirement or financial planning. When you’re already preparing yourself for the future, it makes sense to include a stipulation for your death as well as your end of life.

 

Benefits to burial insurance include:

 

  • Ensuring your family will not have to pay out of pocket for your funeral
  • Saving money by locking in rates or making pre-arrangements
  • Providing a quicker payout than you get from traditional life insurance or an estate in probate
  • Allowing your family freedom of choice to plan your funeral (without the burden of cost)

Just as no two home or car insurance policies are the same, so too do you have choices when it comes to burial insurance. Always be aware of the fine print and total financial investment before you sign any contracts.

 A burial insurance policy can be an ideal way to manage your final burial and funeral expenses, especially if you do not have an existing life insurance policy. Setting up a funeral, cremation or burial policy allows you to make small affordable payments over time. If you prefer to have a separate policy to specifically address your final expenses, burial insurance may be ideal for you.

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Burial insurance might not take away the pain of a death, but it can make funeral planning management and it can help with funeral costs after a sudden loss.  Just like health insurance, burial expense insurance helps to defray the costs of your funeral and your burial. Even with inflation, you can plan for the costs of your death to be minimal, if present at all. No one wants to go to a funeral, cry, and then be handed a bill, though in a discreet and compassionate way. Funeral directors do need to be paid, after all. With a burial insurance plan, you can ensure no one but you is paying for your death.

Have you purchased or thought about purchasing burial insurance?  Please share your thoughts below.

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Writing a Will Properly

Last Will and Testament

What You Need to Know About Writing a Will

 

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Writing a will isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. After all, by doing so you’re not only acknowledging your own inevitable demise but actively planning for it. That might explain why so many adults avoid this cornerstone of estate planning.  According to an AARP survey, 2 out of 5 Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will.

See also:  a cost-effective way to get your will done. 

But creating a will is one of the most critical things you can do for your loved ones. Putting your wishes on paper helps your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles, and you gain the peace of mind knowing that a life’s worth of possessions will end up in the right hands.

“A will is an important way you can stay in control over who gets what of your property,” says Sally Hurme, an attorney with AARP, “and by planning in advance you can also save your family time and money.”

The laws governing wills vary from state to state. If you aren’t familiar with them, consider consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or estate planner in your area. Before you do, brush up on these 10 things you should know about writing a will.

 

What is a will?

A will is simply a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things such as a vacation home but also small items that might hold sentimental value such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes your stated wishes.

A will can also serve to declare who you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents, and who you want to receive specific items that you own — Aunt Sally gets the silver, Cousin Billy the bone china, and so on. Someone designated to receive any of your property is called a “beneficiary.”

Some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally aren’t covered by wills. You should’ve listed beneficiaries when you took out the policies or opened the accounts. Check if you can’t remember, and make sure you keep beneficiaries up to date, since what you have on file when you die should dictate who receives those assets.

 

What happens if I die without a will?

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If you die without a valid will, you’ll become what’s called intestate. That usually means your estate will be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what. Probate is the legal process of transferring the property of a deceased person to the rightful heirs.

Since no executor was named, a judge appoints an administrator to serve in that capacity. An administrator also will be named if a will is deemed to be invalid. All wills must meet certain standards such as being witnessed to be legally valid. Again, requirements vary from state to state.

An administrator will most likely be a stranger to you and your family, and he or she will be bound by the letter of the probate laws of your state. As such, an administrator may make decisions that wouldn’t necessarily agree with your wishes or those of your heirs.

 

Do I need an attorney to prepare my will?

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No, you aren’t required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will, though an experienced lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies such as living trusts. But as long as your will meets the legal requirements of your state, it’s valid whether a lawyer drafted it or you wrote it yourself on the back of a napkin.

Do-it-yourself will kits are widely available. Conduct an Internet search for “online wills” or “estate planning software” to find options, or check bookstores and libraries for will-writing guides. 

I recommend Law Depot.  They were founded in 2001 and more than 2 million people have used LawDepot to create over 4 million legal documents and save over a billion dollars in legal fees. With their free trial subscription, you will have unlimited access to all of LawDepot’s documents which can be customized, downloaded, and printed in 5-10 minutes with no strings attached.

Your state’s departments of aging also might be able to direct you to free or low-cost resources for estate planning.

And while you’re working on your will, you should think about preparing other essential estate-planning documents. “When you create or update your will, that’s also a good time to think about other advance-planning tools like financial and health care powers of attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out while you’re still alive,” says Naomi Karp of AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

 

Should my spouse and I have a joint will or separate wills?

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Estate planners almost universally advise against joint wills, and some states don’t even recognize them. Odds are you and your spouse won’t die at the same time, and there’s probably property that’s not jointly held. That’s why separate wills make better sense, even though your will and your spouse’s will might end up looking remarkably similar.

In particular, separate wills allow for each spouse to address issues such as ex-spouses and children from previous relationships. Ditto for property that was obtained during a previous marriage. Be very clear about who gets what. Probate laws generally favor the current spouse.

 

Who should act as a witness to a will?

Any person can act as a witness to your will, but you should select someone who isn’t a beneficiary. Otherwise there’s the potential for a conflict of interest. The technical term is a disinterested witness. Some states require two or more witnesses. If a lawyer drafts your will, he or she shouldn’t serve as a witness.

Not all states require a will to be notarized, but some do. Check. You may also want to have your witnesses sign what’s called a self-proving affidavit in the presence of a notary. This affidavit can speed up the probate process because your witnesses likely won’t be called into court by a judge to validate their signatures and the authenticity of the will.

 

Who should I name as my executor?

You can name your spouse, an adult child, or another trusted friend or relative as your executor. If your affairs are complicated, it might make more sense to name an attorney or someone with legal and financial expertise. You can also name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.

One of the most important things your will can do is empower your executor to pay your bills  and deal with debt collectors. Make sure the wording of your will allows for this, and also gives your executor leeway to take care of any related issues that aren’t specifically outlined in your will.

 

How do I leave specific items to specific heirs?

If you wish to leave certain personal property to certain heirs, indicate as much in your will. In addition, you can create a separate document called a letter of instruction that you should keep with your will.

A letter of instruction, which isn’t legally binding in some states, can be written more informally than a will and can go into detail about which items go to whom. You can also include specifics about any number of things that will help your executor settle your estate including account numbers, passwords and even burial instructions.

Another option is to leave everything to one trusted person who knows your wishes for distributing your personal items. This, of course, is risky because you’re relying on this person to honor your intentions without fail. Consider carefully.

 

Where should I keep my will?

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A probate court usually requires your original will before it can process your estate, so it’s important to keep the document safe yet accessible. If you put the will in a bank safe deposit box that only you can get into, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. A waterproof and fireproof safe in your house is a good alternative.

Your attorney or someone you trust should keep signed copies in case the original is destroyed. Signed copies can be used to establish your intentions. However, the absence of an original will can complicate matters, and without it there’s no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you’d hoped.

 

How often does a will need to be updated?

It’s possible that your will may never need to be updated — or you may choose to update it regularly. The decision is yours. Remember, the only version of your will that matters is the most current valid one in existence at the time of your death.

With that in mind, you may want to revisit your will at times of major life changes. Think of pivotal moments such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance, and so on. Your kids probably won’t need guardians named in a will after they’re adults, for example, but you might still need to name guardians for disabled dependents. A rule of thumb: Review your will every two or three years to be safe.

Who has the right to contest my will?

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Contesting a will refers to challenging the legal validity of all or part of the document. A beneficiary who feels slighted by the terms of a will might choose to contest it. Depending on which state you live in, so too might a spouse, ex-spouse or child who believes your stated wishes go against local probate laws.

A will can be contested for any number of other reasons: it wasn’t properly witnessed; you weren’t competent when you signed it; or it’s the result of coercion or fraud. It’s usually up to a probate judge to settle the dispute. The key to successfully contesting a will is finding legitimate legal fault with it. A clearly drafted and validly executed will is the best defense.

 

Having a will is so important for your peace of mind and that of your loved ones.  Take some time to think about your assets and your wishes, and get started at your earlier convenience.  You’ll be glad to have it done.

I’d love to hear from you if you thoughts on or have had experience preparing a will.  Please leave your comment below.

 

Related:

Cost Effective Wills

Estate Planning Mistakes

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Estate Planning Mistakes

Avoid These Costly Estate Planning Mistakes

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Why work hard to build wealth only to have your wishes thwarted or your family left with much less than you anticipated? From wills to trusts and beyond, protect your loved ones by avoiding these four costly but common estate-planning mistakes.

1. Forgoing an expert’s review.

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There’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks by drafting your own estate-planning documents. You can find templates for basic wills and such online or in bookstores. It’s a good idea to also invest in a review of the final documents by an expert to be sure everything is in order.

“Ninety percent of the online estate-planning documents  I see don’t do what the people think they’re going to do,” says Leanna Hamill, an estate planner and elder law attorney in Hingham, Mass. “I’ve seen people use online documents, documents out of estate-planning books or documents borrowed from friends. But they screw up their estate plan because they don’t understand the legal and technical aspects of the documents.”

Common mistakes Hamill has seen? One client signed a deed transferring his house to a trust but hadn’t properly created the trust. Thus, the deed had no effect. Another client’s confusion over the term “beneficiary” resulted in the immediate transfer of all his property to his children and required him to pay them an annual income, leaving his wife in the cold.

 

2. Failing to tie your business to your estate plan.

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If you own a business, include it in your estate plan. “Parents sometimes don’t want to talk to their kids about it and just leave the business to the kids,” says Steve Ciepiela, president and owner of Charles Stephen & Co., a financial planning firm in Albuquerque, N.M. “That’s a huge mistake.”

A typical conundrum is how to provide equally for children who work in the family business and those who don’t. Ciepiela had hounded a couple with five children to do estate planning that covered their business. But they stuck with simple wills and died within five months of each other. At a family meeting after the parents’ deaths, three children not working in the business wanted to know how much income they’d begin getting from the business. The two brothers who worked in the business contended they had to sell it to pay estate taxes.

The business was shut down and sold at a huge discount. The two brothers opened a new, but less successful, business, recalls Ciepiela. All of that could have been avoided if the parents had bought life insurance to cover estate taxes or equalize the distribution to children who didn’t work in the business.

 

3. Leaving lump sums.

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If you have money to leave behind, be sure it makes a difference in your family members’ lives by leaving it in a trust, rather than cash. Donald A. DeLong, an estate, business and tax-planning lawyer in Southfield, Mich., witnessed one case in which a father left $250,000 to his heroin-addicted son, who was penniless six months later.

“He did his own will,” says DeLong. “He knew the problems his son had with drugs because his son lived with him. I think he just wasn’t aware he had other options. A trust was probably his best option, because it’s the best way to protect people from themselves.”

With a trust, you transfer property to a trustee, who is bound by a trust agreement. The trust agreement stipulates how you want the property distributed. So rather than giving property outright to a beneficiary, the trustee holds your property and doles it out per your instructions. It’s an added layer of protection.

The most common types of trusts —  revocable living trust  and  irrevocable trusts  —  can contain so-called spendthrift provisions. “A spendthrift provision prevents the beneficiary from getting advances against or trying to get a loan using his interest in the trust as collateral,” says DeLong. “It also leaves the beneficiary’s creditors in the cold because the beneficiary has no control over or access to the trust funds in the trust.”

 

4. Neglecting to update your estate plan.

Each time the law or your family changes, revisit your estate plan. The all-time record for an out-of-date estate plan may go to a couple who not long ago came to Everett Sussman, an estate-planning attorney in Stratford, Conn. “They said they’d done their wills when their kids were young — that was in September 1957,” says Sussman. “Legally, those documents were valid, but they’d have been worth nothing at all. The couple no longer needed guardians for their children, who now have adult children of their own. Their assets were wildly different, and the executor they’d chosen had died many years earlier.”

Changes can also require alterations in not-so-old estate plans. Sussman is in the process of “fixing” the estate of a woman who split her assets between her daughter and granddaughter. But when she died, her daughter was again pregnant. “The grandmother didn’t update her will when she found out her daughter was going to have a second child because she probably thought her attorney drafted it properly to accommodate for later-born children,” says Sussman. “I was brought in to overturn the estate so half would be split among the grandchildren. Had there been feuding children, we never would have accomplished this because the will was valid on its face.”

If you would like to see how to prepare a trust inexpensively online, I recommend Law Depot for simple do-it-yourself legal document preparation.  You can always have an expert check it over for a small fee, and you can make changes to your document any time.

Please share your thoughts and experience with estate planning in the comment section below.

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Cost Effective Wills

Online software and ready-made forms make creating a will simple and affordable.

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If you’ve put off making a last will and testament because you don’t want to pay a lawyer, you should know that it’s not necessary to hire an attorney to draw up a will.

Many people who require a basic will can create one online or simply use store-bought legal forms. Each of these methods of creating a will is far less expensive than retaining a lawyer to do the job.

 For instance, several Internet-based companies, such as Law Depot,   allow you to create a will from your own computer. 
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When you create a will online, you are walked step-by-step through a series of questions to help you create the will.  You then print out the will, and get it signed by at least two witnesses and notarized. Most online software programs for wills also let you go back into the will and make changes or additions to the document as you see fit.

 

The cost of making an online will usually ranges from about $20 to $100. For as little as $5 to $20, you can also buy a standard will and testament on ready-made forms sold in stores such as OfficeMax, Office Depot or Staples.

 

By comparison, a lawyer may charge anywhere from roughly $100 to $1,000 to create a will, depending on the part of the country in which you live and the complexity of your personal circumstances.

 

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…So don’t let money be an obstacle to creating your will.

 

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You really do have easy, convenient, low-cost alternatives to get the process completed.

 

There are some situations, however, when you may want to hire a lawyer.

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For example, it’s best to get an attorney involved if:

  • You have a large estate and want some estate planning guidance.
  • You want to disinherit a spouse.
  • You are concerned that someone may contest your will or try to claim that you weren’t of sound mind when you signed it.

 

I used an online software program to create my will; my husband did, too.  So if your situation is pretty straight-forward, you can do the same thing. And rest assured that a will prepared on online software — or one prepared on a store-bought form — is just as legal as if an attorney drew it up.

 

I used and recommend Law Depot for Americans,  Canadians,  Australians and citizens of the UK.

 

Please share your thoughts and experience with will preparation in the comment section below.

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Planning a Funeral

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Here’s how to make well-informed choices during an emotional time

 

When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral — all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress.

 

What kind of funeral should it be? What funeral provider should you use? Should you bury or cremate the body, or donate it to science? What are you legally required to buy? What other arrangements should you plan?

 

And, as callous as it may sound, how much is it all going to cost?

 

Each year, Americans grapple with these and many other questions as they spend billions of dollars arranging more than 2 million funerals for family members and friends. The increasing trend toward pre-need planning — when people make funeral arrangements in advance — suggests that many consumers want to compare prices and services so that ultimately, the funeral reflects a wise and well-informed purchasing decision, as well as a meaningful one.

 

 

A Consumer Product

 

 

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Funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. A traditional funeral, including a coffin and vault, costs about $6,000, although extras, like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards or limousines, can add thousands of dollars to the bottom line. Many funerals run well over $10,000.

 

Yet even if you’re the kind of person who might haggle with a dozen dealers to get the best price on a new car, you’re likely to feel uncomfortable comparing prices or negotiating over the details and cost of a funeral, pre-need or at need. Compounding this discomfort is the fact that some people “overspend” on a funeral or burial because they think of it as a reflection of their feelings for the deceased.

 

Pre-Need

 

To help relieve their families of some of these decisions, an increasing number of people are planning their own funerals, designating their funeral preferences, and sometimes even paying for them in advance. They see funeral planning as an extension of will and estate planning.

 

Planning

 

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Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. It allows you to choose the specific items you want and need and compare the prices offered by several funeral providers. It also spares your survivors the stress of making these decisions under the pressure of time and strong emotions.

 

You can make arrangements directly with a funeral establishment or through a funeral planning or memorial society — a nonprofit organization that provides information about funerals and disposition but doesn’t offer funeral services. If you choose to contact such a group, recognize that while some funeral homes may include the word “society” in their names, they are not nonprofit organizations.

 

One other important consideration when planning a funeral pre-need is where the remains will be buried, entombed or scattered. In the short time between the death and burial of a loved one, many family members find themselves rushing to buy a cemetery plot or grave — often without careful thought or a personal visit to the site. That’s why it’s in the family’s best interest to buy cemetery plots before you need them.

 

You may wish to make decisions about your arrangements in advance, but not pay for them in advance. Keep in mind that over time, prices may go up and businesses may close or change ownership. However, in some areas with increased competition, prices may go down over time. It’s a good idea to review and revise your decisions every few years, and to make sure your family is aware of your wishes.

 

Put your preferences in writing, give copies to family members and your attorney, and keep a copy in a handy place. Don’t designate your preferences in your will, because a will often is not found or read until after the funeral. And avoid putting the only copy of your preferences in a safe deposit box. That’s because your family may have to make arrangements on a weekend or holiday, before the box can be opened.

 

 

Prepaying

 

Millions of Americans and Canadians have entered into contracts to prearrange their funerals and prepay some or all of the expenses involved. Laws of individual states govern the prepayment of funeral goods and services; various states have laws to help ensure that these advance payments are available to pay for the funeral products and services when they’re needed.

 

But protections vary widely from state to state, and some state laws offer little or no effective protection. Some state laws require the funeral home or cemetery to place a percentage of the prepayment in a state-regulated trust or to purchase a life insurance policy with the death benefits assigned to the funeral home or cemetery.

 

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If you’re thinking about prepaying for funeral goods and services, it’s important to consider these issues before putting down any money:

 

  • What are you are paying for? Are you buying only merchandise, like a coffin and vault, or are you purchasing funeral services as well?
  • What happens to the money you’ve prepaid? States have different requirements for handling money for prearranged funeral services.
  • What happens to the interest income on money that is prepaid and put into a trust account?
  • Are you protected if the firm you dealt with goes out of business?
  • Can you cancel the contract and get a full refund if you change your mind?
  • What happens if you move to a different area or die while away from home? Some prepaid funeral plans can be transferred, but often at an added cost.

 

Be sure to tell your family about the plans you’ve made; let them know where the documents are filed. If your family isn’t aware that you’ve made plans, your wishes may not be carried out. And if family members don’t know that you’ve prepaid the funeral costs, they could end up paying for the same arrangements. You may wish to consult an attorney on the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed.

 

 

The Funeral Rule

 

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Most funeral providers are professionals who strive to serve their clients’ needs and best interests. But some aren’t. They may take advantage of their clients through inflated prices, overcharges, double charges or unnecessary services.

 

Fortunately, there’s a federal law that makes it easier for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements pre-need or at need.

 

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone. The rule also requires funeral directors to give you other information about their goods and services.

 

For example, if you ask about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list to keep that shows the goods and services the home offers. If you want to buy a coffin or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the coffins. 
Many funeral providers offer various packages of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. But when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

 

According to the Funeral Rule:

 

  • You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
  • The funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a coffin you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

 

 

What Kind of Funeral Do You Want?

 

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Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and if so, whether the casket will be open or closed, and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.

 

Among the choices you’ll need to make are whether you want one of these basic types of funerals, or something in between.

 

 

Traditional, Full-Service Funeral

 

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This type of funeral, often referred to by funeral providers as a traditional funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and cemetery, and burial, entombment or cremation of the remains.

 

It is generally the most expensive type of funeral. In addition to the funeral home’s basic services fee, costs often include embalming and dressing the body; rental of the funeral home for the viewing or service; and use of vehicles to transport the family if they don’t use their own. The costs of a coffin, cemetery plot or crypt and other funeral goods and services also must be factored in.

 

Direct Burial

 

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The body is buried shortly after death, usually in a simple container. No viewing or visitation is involved, so no embalming is necessary. A memorial service may be held at the graveside or later. Direct burial usually costs less than the traditional, full-service funeral. Costs include the funeral home’s basic services fee, as well as transportation and care of the body, the purchase of a coffin or burial container and a cemetery plot or crypt. If the family chooses to be at the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home often charges an additional fee for a graveside service.

 

Direct Cremation

 

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The body is cremated shortly after death, without embalming. The cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container. No viewing or visitation is involved, although a memorial service may be held, with or without the cremated remains present. The remains can be kept in the home, buried or placed in a crypt or niche in a cemetery, or buried or scattered in a favorite spot.

 

 

Direct cremation usually costs less than the traditional, full-service funeral. Costs include the funeral home’s basic services fee, as well as transportation and care of the body. A crematory fee may be included or, if the funeral home does not own the crematory, the fee may be added on. There also will be a charge for an urn or other container. The cost of a cemetery plot or crypt is included only if the remains are buried or entombed.

 

Funeral providers who offer direct cremations must also offer to provide an alternative container that can be used in place of a coffin.

 

 

Choosing a Funeral Provider

 

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Many people don’t realize that they are not legally required to use a funeral home to plan and conduct a funeral. However, because they have little experience with the many details and legal requirements involved and may be emotionally distraught when it’s time to make the plans, many people find the services of a professional funeral home to be a comfort.

 

Consumers often select a funeral home or cemetery because it’s close to home, has served the family in the past, or has been recommended by someone they trust. But people who limit their search to just one funeral home may risk paying more than necessary for the funeral or narrowing their choice of goods and services.

 

Comparison shopping need not be difficult, especially if it’s done before the need for a funeral arises. If you visit a funeral home in person, the funeral provider is required by law to give you a general price list itemizing the cost of the items and services the home offers. If the general price list does not include specific prices of coffins or outer burial containers, the law requires the funeral director to show you the price lists for those items before showing you the items.

 

Sometimes it’s more convenient and less stressful to “price shop” funeral homes by telephone. The Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to provide price information over the phone to any caller who asks for it. In addition, many funeral homes are happy to mail you their price lists, although that is not required by law.

 

When comparing prices, be sure to consider the total cost of all the items together, in addition to the costs of single items. Every funeral home should have price lists that include all the items essential for the different types of arrangements it offers. Many funeral homes offer package funerals that may cost less than purchasing individual items or services. Offering package funerals is permitted by law, as long as an itemized price list also is provided. But only by using the price lists can you accurately compare total costs.

 

In addition, there’s a growing trend toward consolidation in the funeral home industry, and many neighborhood funeral homes are thought to be locally owned when in fact, they’re owned by a national corporation. If this issue is important to you, you may want to ask if the funeral home is locally owned.

 

Funeral Costs

 

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Funeral costs include:

 

Basic services fee for the funeral director and staff. The Funeral Rule allows funeral providers to charge a basic services fee that customers cannot decline to pay. The basic services fee includes services that are common to all funerals, regardless of the specific arrangement.

 

These include funeral planning, securing the necessary permits and copies of death certificates, preparing the notices, sheltering the remains, and coordinating the arrangements with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties. The fee does not include charges for optional services or merchandise.

 

Charges for other services and merchandise. These are costs for optional goods and services such as transporting the remains; embalming and other preparation; use of the funeral home for the viewing, ceremony or memorial service; use of equipment and staff for a graveside service; use of a hearse or limousine; a coffin, outer burial container or alternate container; and cremation or interment.

 

Cash advances. These are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from outside vendors on your behalf, including flowers, obituary notices, pallbearers, officiating clergy, and organists and soloists.

 

Some funeral providers charge you their cost for the items they buy on your behalf. Others add a service fee to their cost. The Funeral Rule requires those who charge an extra fee to disclose that fact in writing, although it doesn’t require them to specify the amount of their markup. The rule also requires funeral providers to tell you if there are refunds, discounts or rebates from the supplier on any cash advance item.

 

 

Calculating the Actual Cost

 

The funeral provider must give you an itemized statement of the total cost of the funeral goods and services you have selected when you are making the arrangements. If the funeral provider doesn’t know the cost of the cash advance items at the time, he or she is required to give you a written “good faith estimate.” This statement also must disclose any legal, cemetery or crematory requirements that you purchase any specific funeral goods or services.

The Funeral Rule does not require any specific format for this information. Funeral providers may include it in any document they give you at the end of your discussion about funeral arrangements.

 

Services and Products

 

 

Embalming

 

Many funeral homes require embalming if you’re planning a viewing or visitation. But embalming generally is not necessary or legally required if the body is buried or cremated shortly after death. Eliminating this service can save you hundreds of dollars. Under the Funeral Rule, a funeral provider:

 

  • May not provide embalming services without permission.
  • May not falsely state that embalming is required by law.
  • Must disclose in writing that embalming is not required by law, except in certain special cases.
  • May not charge a fee for unauthorized embalming unless embalming is required by state law.
  • Must disclose in writing that you usually have the right to choose a disposition, such as direct cremation or immediate burial, that does not require embalming if you do not want this service.
  • Must disclose in writing that some funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing, may make embalming a practical necessity and, if so, a required purchase.

 

Coffins

 

 

 

 

For a traditional, full-service funeral: 
A casket often is the single most expensive item you’ll buy if you plan a traditional, full-service funeral.

 

Caskets vary widely in style and price and are sold primarily for their visual appeal. Typically, they’re constructed of metal, wood, fiberboard, fiberglass or plastic. Although an average coffin costs slightly more than $2,000, some mahogany, bronze or copper caskets sell for as much as $10,000.

 

When you visit a funeral home or showroom to shop for a coffin, the Funeral Rule requires the funeral director to show you a list of coffins the company sells, with descriptions and prices, before showing you the coffins. Industry studies show that the average coffin shopper buys one of the first three models shown, generally the middle-priced of the three.

 

So it’s in the seller’s best interest to start out by showing you higher-end models. If you haven’t seen some of the lower-priced models on the price list, ask to see them — but don’t be surprised if they’re not prominently displayed, or not on display at all.

 

Traditionally, coffins have been sold only by funeral homes. But with increasing frequency, showrooms and websites operated by third-party dealers are selling caskets.

You can save money and avoid the funeral home mark-up by purchasing a coffin yourself and having it shipped directly to the funeral home.

 

The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to agree to use a casket you bought elsewhere, and doesn’t allow them to charge you a fee for using it.

 

No matter where or when you’re buying a coffin, it’s important to remember that its purpose is to provide a dignified way to move the body before burial or cremation. No coffin, regardless of its qualities or cost, will preserve a body forever.

 

Metal coffins frequently are described as “gasketed,” “protective” or “sealer” caskets. These terms mean that the coffin has a rubber gasket or some other feature that is designed to delay the penetration of water into the coffin and prevent rust. The Funeral Rule forbids claims that these features help preserve the remains indefinitely because they don’t. They just add to the cost of the coffin.

 

Most metal coffins are made from rolled steel of varying gauges — the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel. Some metal coffins come with a warranty for longevity. Wooden coffins generally are not gasketed and don’t have a warranty for longevity. They can be hardwood like mahogany, walnut, cherry or oak, or softwood like pine. Pine coffins are a less expensive option, but funeral homes rarely display them. Manufacturers of both wooden and metal coffins usually warrant workmanship and materials.

 

For cremation: 
Many families that opt to have their loved ones cremated rent a coffin from the funeral home for the visitation and funeral, eliminating the cost of buying a coffin. If you opt for visitation and cremation, ask about the rental option. For those who choose a direct cremation without a viewing or other ceremony where the body is present, the funeral provider must offer an inexpensive unfinished wood box or alternative container, a non-metal enclosure — pressboard, cardboard or canvas — that is cremated with the body.

 

Under the Funeral Rule, funeral directors who offer direct cremations:

 

  • May not tell you that state or local law requires a casket for direct cremations, because none do.
  • Must disclose in writing your right to buy an unfinished wood box or an alternative container for a direct cremation.
  • Must make an unfinished wood box or other alternative container available for direct cremations.

 

Burial vaults or grave liners

 

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Burial vaults or grave liners, also known as burial containers, are commonly used in traditional, full-service funerals. The vault or liner is placed in the ground before burial, and the casket is lowered into it at burial.

 

The purpose is to prevent the ground from caving in as the coffin deteriorates over time. A grave liner is made of reinforced concrete and will satisfy any cemetery requirement. Grave liners cover only the top and sides of the coffin. A burial vault is more substantial and expensive than a grave liner. It surrounds the coffin in concrete or another material and may be sold with a warranty of protective strength.

 

State laws do not require a vault or liner, and funeral providers may not tell you otherwise. However, keep in mind that many cemeteries require some type of outer burial container to prevent the grave from sinking in the future.

 

Neither grave liners nor burial vaults are designed to prevent the eventual decomposition of human remains. It is illegal for funeral providers to claim that a vault will keep water, dirt or other debris from penetrating into the coffin if that’s not true.

 

Before showing you any outer burial containers, a funeral provider is required to give you a list of prices and descriptions. It may be less expensive to buy an outer burial container from a third-party dealer than from a funeral home or cemetery. Compare prices from several sources before you select a model.

 

 

Preservative processes and products

 

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As far back as the ancient Egyptians, people have used oils, herbs and special body preparations to help preserve the bodies of their dead. Yet, no process or products have been devised to preserve a body in the grave indefinitely. The Funeral Rule prohibits funeral providers from telling you that it can be done. For example, funeral providers may not claim that either embalming or a particular type of coffin will preserve the body of the deceased for an unlimited time.

 

 

Cemetery sites

 

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When you are purchasing a cemetery plot, consider the location of the cemetery and whether it meets the requirements of your family’s religion. Other considerations include what, if any, restrictions the cemetery places on burial vaults purchased elsewhere, the type of monuments or memorials it allows, and whether flowers or other remembrances may be placed on graves.

 

Cost is another consideration. Cemetery plots can be expensive, especially in metropolitan areas. Most, but not all, cemeteries require you to purchase a grave liner, which will cost several hundred dollars. Note that there are charges — usually hundreds of dollars — to open a grave for interment and additional charges to fill it in. Perpetual care on a cemetery plot sometimes is included in the purchase price, but it’s important to clarify that point before you buy the site or service. If it’s not included, look for a separate endowment care fee for maintenance and grounds keeping.

 

If you plan to bury your loved one’s cremated remains in a mausoleum or columbarium, you can expect to purchase a crypt and pay opening and closing fees, as well as charges for endowment care and other services. The FTC’s Funeral Rule does not cover cemeteries and mausoleums unless they sell both funeral goods and funeral services, so be cautious in making your purchase to ensure that you receive all pertinent price and other information, and that you’re being dealt with fairly.

 

 

Veterans cemeteries

 

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All veterans are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. This eligibility also extends to some civilians who have provided military-related service and some Public Health Service personnel.

 

Spouses and dependent children also are entitled to a lot and marker when buried in a national cemetery. There are no charges for opening or closing the grave, for a vault or liner, or for setting the marker in a national cemetery. The family generally is responsible for other expenses, including transportation to the cemetery. For more information, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs’ website at www.cem.va.gov. To reach the regional Veterans office in your area, call (800) 827-1000.

 

In addition, many states have established state veterans cemeteries. Eligibility requirements and other details vary. Contact your state for more information.

 

Beware of commercial cemeteries that advertise so-called “veterans’ specials.” These cemeteries sometimes offer a free plot for the veteran, but charge exorbitant rates for an adjoining plot for the spouse, as well as high fees for opening and closing each grave. Evaluate the bottom-line cost to be sure the special is as special as you may be led to believe.

 

 

 

Solving Problems

 

If you have a problem concerning funeral matters, it’s best to try to resolve it first with the funeral director. If you are dissatisfied, the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance may be able to advise you on how best to resolve your issue. You also can contact your state or local consumer protection agencies listed in your telephone book, or the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program.

You can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the Consumer Response Center by phone, toll-free, at (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357); TDD: (866) 653-4261; by mail: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580; or on the Internet at www.ftc.gov, using the online complaint form. Although the commission cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations.

 

 

Planning for a funeral

 

  • Shop around in advance. Compare prices from at least two funeral homes. Remember that you can supply your own casket or urn.
  • Ask for a price list. The law requires funeral homes to give you written price lists for products and services.
  • Resist pressure to buy goods and services you don’t really want or need.
  • Avoid emotional overspending. It’s not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
  • Recognize your rights. Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It’s a smart move to know which goods or services the law requires you to purchase and which are optional.
  • Apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases. You can cut costs by limiting the viewing to one day or one hour before the funeral, and by dressing your loved one in a favorite outfit instead of costly burial clothing.
  • Plan ahead. It allows you to comparison shop without time constraints, creates an opportunity for family discussion, and lifts some of the burden from your family.

 

 

 

 

Please share your thoughts and experience with funeral planning below.

 

You may also be interested in:

Funeral and Sympathy Flowers

How to Write Sympathy Card Messages

Coping With Grief (And What I Did)

Dealing With Caregiver Anxiety

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Make A Living Will Today

What is a Living Will or Healthcare Directive

And  Do You Need One?

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Prepare for unforeseen circumstances to save yourself and your family needless pain.

We have all heard stories of people who, because of a terrible accident or illness, become unable to make health care decisions for themselves. It may happen gradually, when someone develops dementia, for example. If he or she did not previously designate another person to do so, the matter can end up in the courts.

Having a health care power of attorney  is the best way to make sure that your wishes are followed and that you receive the level of care you choose.

In this video by Milwaukee Public Television, attorney Betsy Abramson, deputy director of the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging, offers pointers on how you can put your mind at ease by filling out the vital paperwork.

 

Living Will states your wishes regarding life support in the event that you cannot communicate your end-of-life wishes yourself. Your Living Will only comes into effect if you are in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma and can no longer make and communicate your own wishes. A Living Will spares your family the anguish of making life-support decisions without your input. A Living Will also ensures that your doctor understands your end-of-life wishes and treats you accordingly.

Living Wills can be very specific or very general. Living Wills that are too general may not provide sufficient direction and serve only to create confusion and conflict between medical personnel, your health care agent, and your loved ones. More specific Living Wills are preferred. These are shown to be most successful when they include informed, thoughtful reflection on your wishes and values supported by personal communication between you and your health care agent before a medical crisis occurs.

Recently, Living Wills have moved away from focusing on specific treatments and medical procedures to focus on patient values, personal goals, and health outcome states. For example, a Living Will might: designate an agent to make care decisions; dictate what kind of life support treatment that patient does or does not want; discuss pain management, personal grooming and bathing instructions; address how the patient wants to be treated, including religious, spiritual, and emotional support; and detail funeral or memorial plans.

Choosing an Agent for Your Living Will

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When you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself, the power to make life-support decisions for you is transferred to the person you designate as your agent in your Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney. 

This person must act according to the directives set out in that document. The person that you designate as your agent should be someone you know and trust. Some states refer to the agent as an “attorney-in-fact,” “health care agent,” “health care proxy,” “health care representative,” “patient advocate,” “proxy” or “surrogate.”

The statutes of most states require that your agent be an adult. In addition, under most circumstances, your agent cannot be your health care provider (for example, a physician, nurse, employee, officer, director, or operator of a home health agency, hospital, nursing home, or residential care facility) unless that person is related to you. In selecting an agent for your Living Will, you should not designate a person who is, or may become, directly involved in providing health care to you unless that person is your spouse or a family member.

Make sure your agent is willing to assume responsibility for your medical decision making. If she agrees to be your proxy, talk with her about your values, beliefs and desires. Good health care agents are able to separate their own feelings from yours and your wishes, but may feel guilt and anguish at having to make such difficult end-of-life decisions. Communicating early and often with your agent can help ensure that both you and your agent are comfortable and at peace with your life-support wishes.

http://www.lawdepot.ca/contracts/living-will-personal-directive/?pid=pg-R4A3Y9OYQP-living-will-personal-directivetextlink&ldcn=healthdir&loc=CA

Choose just one person to serve as your agent at a given time to avoid conflicts. But choose an alternate agent in case the primary agent is not available. Once you have selected an agent, make sure they get a copy of your Living Will, and tell your family and physician whom you’ve selected.

Many individuals give their health care agents broad authority to override their written Living Will. Other individuals give the written Living Will priority. Make sure to articulate which instruction to follow when there is a conflict between your agent and your Living Will.

 

Summary For Americans:

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Create your US Citizen Living Will today.  Call your lawyer or prepare one simply and inexpensively yourself online at Law Depot.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will lets you specify your choices for medical treatment. A Living Will documents your preferences for the time when you are no longer able to communicate or provide consent.

What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone (your Agent) to make health care decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so.

What are my rights?

If you have a Living Will, the decisions made by your Agent will be constrained by that document. The Medical Power of Attorney is useful for those issues that are not covered by your Living Will. In those cases, your Agent can ensure the intent of your wishes are followed.

The U.S. Constitution allows people to determine the kind of health care they will receive. However, many states limit the types of health care decisions that can be made, and the instructions that you provide below may go beyond what is allowed in your state. This will not invalidate your instructions, but your health care providers may be limited to what is legally permitted.

 

Summary For Canadians:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/polopoly_fs/1.2237377.1424029075!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_960/image.jpg

Create your Canadian Citizen Living Will today.  Call your lawyer, or prepare one inexpensively yourself online at Law Depot.

What is a Representation Agreement?

A Personal Directive or Living Will allows you to designate someone who will make health care and personal care decisions for you when you are not able and also to provide instructions for future care while you are still capable of making decisions for yourself.  A Personal Directive provides an opportunity for you to discuss treatment options with your medical staff as well as to discuss and resolve difficult issues with your family and friends.  Your directive must be made while you are still capable of giving consent.  Note that a Personal Directive is also called a Living Will, Advance Directive, Health Care Directive, or Power of Attorney for personal care.

Every adult who is 19 years of age or older is presumed to be capable of making, changing or revoking a representation agreement, and making decisions about personal care, health care and legal matters and about the adult’s financial affairs, business and assets.In addition the following will apply:

  • You must be mentally competent.
  • You must be fully informed of your treatment options for all possible medical outcomes.
  • You should not be unduly influenced by anyone else during your decision making process.

Who can write a Heath Care Directive?

Every adult who is 19 years of age or older is presumed to be capable of making, changing or revoking a representation agreement, and making decisions about personal care, health care and legal matters and about the adult’s financial affairs, business and assets.In addition the following will apply:

  • You must be mentally competent.
  • You must be fully informed of your treatment options for all possible medical outcomes.
  • You should not be unduly influenced by anyone else during your decision making process.

Other Countries:

Create your  UK Living Will Today.

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