Only 35% of all people have estate planning documents according to a recent article. In the Bay Area, the numbers look a bit higher. But having said that, who in your life would want or hope that you would intervene on their behalf if something went wrong, and do they have documents giving you authority? Too often, people wish to ignore the fact that the world has gotten more difficult to navigate legally and assume that their loved ones, especially if legally related, would be able to effectuate their wishes if they were to get sick or injured. Often that is not enough.
Health care decision making and even health care advocacy on behalf of a loved one, has gotten much harder with all the federal regulations, and without a signed written HIPAA release (Healthcare information Portability and Accountability Act) it can be difficult to even find out how someone is faring. Also a durable power of attorney for financial management, especially for elderly parents and friends, enabling a person they choose to do day-to-day errands and communications for them is vitally important. Responsibilities that they may want to delegate include simple things like calling social security for them, dealing with mail, filing tax returns, renewing insurance, dealing with tenants or landlords, etc. Many of these things may be time sensitive, and having the necessary documents ahead of time and not having to jump through hoops with the courts to establish one’s right to act on behalf of another can make all the difference in the world. Ask those around you if they have done their planning in writing and encourage them to review their documents to insure that they are still appropriate.