- A living will can prevent your clients from having to go to court to protect their assets in the event of an accident or medical emergency.
- Smart end-of-life planning can help provide clients with peace of mind.
- Your clients need both a living will and durable power of attorney.
Although it’s never a pleasant conversation to have, end-of-life planning is an important issue every client needs to address. Discussing living wills and durable power of attorney with them can help them be properly prepared should an accident or other medical emergency arise. It can also help them know their options and provide peace of mind for them — and their family — during turbulent times.
First, it’s important to distinguish between a will and a living will. A will outlines what your clients want to have done with their property and assets after they die. A living will, also known as an Advanced Healthcare Directive, communicates what your clients want to have done while they’re still living, albeit unconscious or in a terminal state.
A living will is important because it allows your clients to clearly define their preferences and articulate those wishes so their physicians and families will know what to do in an emergency. Knowing a living will is in place can help eliminate uncertainty, and offer more stability to their families during a period of extreme stress.
According to DaveRamsey.com, here are the top questions your clients should look to answer when preparing their living will:1
- What would you want to happen if you can no longer breathe on your own?
- If you can no longer feed yourself, how do you feel about feeding tubes?
- What types of pain management drugs or procedures would you be comfortable with?
- Do you want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) or DNI (Do Not Intubate)?
- How do you feel about donating your body or organs after your death?
While not an exhaustive list, these five questions can create a strong foundation for your clients to build on with their living will.
Durable Power of Attorney
Much like a living will, durable power of attorney is another one of the most important things to discuss when helping clients with end-of-life planning. Power of attorney authorizes someone of your client’s choosing, typically a trusted friend or family member, to handle matters like finances or healthcare on their behalf. However, it expires if your client becomes mentally incompetent. On the other hand, a durable power of attorney remains in effect if your client becomes incapacitated, such as due to illness or an accident.2
Here are a few examples of what a durable power of attorney can address for your clients:2
- Buying and selling property
- Managing bank accounts, bills, and investments
- Filing tax returns
- Applying for government benefits
While it’s possible to have a single power of attorney document that covers both medical care and finances, it isn’t recommended. Separate documents ensure focus on the respective topic at hand and will help avoid oversharing irrelevant information. That being said, even though your clients should have separate documents for healthcare and finances, it makes a lot of sense for them to name the same agent under both.3
Your clients can revoke their durable power of attorney at any time, as long as they’re mentally competent. In that case, it’s also wise to have them notify financial institutions and other businesses their durable power of attorney has dealt with.2
It’s important to note that in the event your client has both a living will and a durable power of attorney, the living will takes precedence. Be sure your clients understand the importance of having both options in place to help them solidify their end-of-life plans.
Things to Consider:
- Articulate the importance of end of life planning.
- Guide your clients on how and why they need to create a living will or durable power of attorney.
- Make clear the benefits of being legally prepared in the case of an incapacitating accident or emergency event.
1“What Is A Living Will and Do You Need One?” DaveRamsey.com , accessed August 2020
2 “What Is a Durable Power of Attorney?” LegalZoom.com , accessed August 2020
3 “The Durable Power of Attorney: Health Care and Finances,” Nolo.com , accessed August 2020
Transamerica Resources, Inc. is an Aegon company and is affiliated with various companies which include, but are not limited to, insurance companies and broker dealers. Transamerica Resources, Inc. does not offer insurance products or securities. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as insurance, securities, ERISA, tax, investment, legal, medical or financial advice or guidance. Please consult your personal independent professionals for answers to your specific questions.