Country music legend Glen Campbell is engaged in a very public struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia. Campbell announced his diagnosis in 2011 before embarking on a farewell tour with his family, which was documented in the feature film, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.” The film depicts in sometimes painful detail the impact of Alzheimer’s, not only on the person afflicted with the disease, but also on the loved ones faced with finding the right care and making decisions for someone no longer able to make decisions for himself.
The “Rhinestone Cowboy” is now in a long-term care facility with round-the-clock care. After facing numerous health care issues and a legal challenge from two of his children from a previous marriage, his wife Kim is speaking out to help families dealing with the cruel disease, which affects about 6% of the over-65 population. “Estate planning is very important,” she said, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader report. “Advance health care directives are also very important.”
Kim Campbell is right. Planning ahead for health care crises can alleviate much of the anxiety for both the patient and his or her loved ones, and should be a standard step in every person’s estate planning process.
An advance health care directive, also known as a living will, allows you to make health care decisions now to instruct your family and your doctors about the life-preserving measures you do, or do not, want them to take in the event that you are in a terminal condition and unable to express your wishes. The document may also reflect your wishes regarding organ donation. Announcing your wishes now can help save your family from difficult, emotional, sometimes divisive decisions in the future.
To prepare for serious medical challenges, your estate plan should also include a health care power of attorney, which allows you to appoint a health care agent authorized to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Your health care agent should be a person who knows you well, and has your best interests at heart. It should be someone capable of making tough, objective decisions under emotional circumstances.
Tennessee law (T.C.A. 68-11-1801) provides the legal requirements for a valid advance directive for health care and a durable health care power of attorney. These documents help your loved ones understand your wishes, regarding both the kind of life-preserving care you want as well as the individual(s) you want to make other medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable.
Many people mistakenly assume that a Last Will and Testament is the only essential legal document they need to take care for their loved ones. The reality is that many families face other serious challenges over how to handle end-of-life issues. Often, these disputes turn into legal battles that may have been avoided with some planning and the correct documents, properly prepared.
Please contact us today online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options.