Finances and Legal Matters
Important Information to Get Organized
We all need to be prepared and organized for the future. Three important documents, for both care recipients AND caregivers, form the cornerstone of our legal and medical planning.
Your Power-of-Attorney, general or enduring, is for financial matters and names the person who will act on your behalf.
Your Advance Care Plan or Personal Directive names your substitute decision maker and may outline your wishes for medical and personal care when you are unable to speak for yourself. (Formerly called a Medical Power-of-Attorney or a Living Will.)
Your Will names the person in charge of distributing your estate and carrying out your wishes after your death.
We all need to be sure that our financial, legal, and medical information is accessible to those who may need to act on our behalf. Having this information organized and in one place is a good idea. Make sure that your family, substitute decision maker, and others you designate know where this information is stored.
As the primary caregiver, you should know the whereabouts of this list of Essential Information. It should be kept in a secure yet accessible location and updated regularly. This quick reference estate planning fact sheet from the Legal Information Society describes common Nova Scotia legal documents you should know about.
Planning for the future and advance care planning: Even while in good health, it is important to have conversations with your loved one about plans for the future, and what their wishes are for housing, health care, and end of life care. Although it might be difficult to begin these conversations, having a plan will provide a better quality of life when care needs change, and will give you both peace of mind. To learn more about advance care planning, or how to start the conversation, please visit the Speak Up campaign. Caregivers Nova Scotia's Advance Care Planning for Caregivers: Getting Started workshop is based on this campaign.
More resources on legal and financial matters can be found on the CNS website, including a link to It’s In Your Hands: Legal Information for Seniors and Their Families from the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia.
All too often, important decisions have to be made under very stressful and emotional circumstances. Family members may struggle to be heard; they may feel that others are making decisions in which they should also have a say. “That’s not what Mom would want.” “Who put you in charge?” “I don’t agree with what you are planning to do!” Under these conditions, it is more likely that family relationships will experience a fracture from which they will not heal.
For the family member who will ultimately be charged with making the decisions, they may doubt their judgment in the future. Or there may be hard feelings from another family member who did not agree with the decision. Much of this strife can be avoided if the care recipient is asked about their wishes while they can speak for themselves.
One way to prevent this from happening is to have a Personal Directive or Advance Care Plan completed for you and your loved one. Our workshop, Advance Care Planning for Caregivers: Getting Started is one way you can begin the process of getting things in order and being prepared for such a situation.
Your Advance Care plan outlines your wishes for critical as well as end-of-life care in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. It involves thinking about what is important to you, deciding who you want to speak on your behalf, communicating your wishes to family, friends and healthcare professionals, and putting them in writing.
Research shows that when you have completed your advance care plan:
- It is more likely that your wishes for care and treatment will be honoured.
- Your family will have less stress and anxiety placed upon them during a difficult and emotional time.
- You and your family will be more satisfied with the care you receive, leading to a better quality of life and a better quality of death.
Did you know? There are four main questions to consider when selecting a Substitute Decision Maker:
- Who do I feel comfortable talking to?
- Who will respect and follow my wishes, even if they don’t agree with them?
- Who would be comfortable speaking up for me in a medical setting?
- Who will be physically and emotionally capable of speaking up for me?
Call us to learn more and ask about ACP workshops that may be available in your area.