February 18, 2021
As you know, I am passionate that the most generous gift you owe to yourself is to have a few essential legal documents in place to protect yourself, and your loved ones. So, you can imagine my frustration when I recently saw survey results from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies that reported 7 in 10 adults don’t have a health care proxy (also known as a durable power of attorney for health care) or a financial power of attorney.
The survey was taken in the midst of the pandemic, when we are surrounded by daily reminders of the fragility of life. Yet, most people still haven’t created these must-have documents.
A health care proxy, or durable power of attorney for health care, is a person you appoint who will step in and discuss your care with your doctors if you ever become unable to do so for yourself. I realize that may be a hard scenario to ponder, but in the middle of a pandemic we must all stand in the truth of how quickly we can become so sick that we are unable to communicate.
Without a health care proxy in place, you are potentially creating a difficult situation for your family if there are disagreements on care. What a horrible time for them to be arguing. By having a health care proxy, you are telling your family: “This is the person who I have chosen to make the decisions.” That also will help your medical team. Being able to get quick clear guidance from the health care proxy, rather than having to navigate family discord, can speed up your treatment.
A financial power of attorney is the person you appoint to step in and handle your money matters—paying bills etc.—if you ever become unable to do this yourself. Whether it is a sudden illness such as the coronavirus or the onset of dementia later in life, a financial power of attorney is such an important step to protect yourself from financial issues.
If you have yet to create these documents, I am not here to shame or blame. But I am going to ask you to stand very tall, take a deep breath, and do it now. Not next week. Not next month. Now. Do you hear me?