We all hope to live a long fulfilled life. That picture usually includes living in the home of our choice and making all of our decisions. However with modern medicine prolonging life spans, more and more people are finding themselves needing care at the end of their life.
This care can be as simple as someone coming in to clean the house, help with household chores and fix a few meals. The other extreme is the need for skilled nursing and living in a nursing home with 24 hour care. There are many levels of care between the two.
Who is responsible for this care? Who decides what will be done and when? From a legal standpoint, as long as you can make decisions for yourself you decide. Furthermore, you can decide who will step in when you are no longer able to make the decisions for yourself.
The state has guidelines that include a priority list for who should make your decisions. Your spouse is first followed by your next of kin. If you have children, they have equal priority because their relationship to you is the same. However, there are two ways you can control who is considered for your care.
First, a durable (financial) power of attorney and a medical power of attorney will allow someone to step in immediately to care for you temporarily or permanently. Second, a declaration of guardian in advance of need will provide the court with your priority order. This declaration is used if a guardianship proceeding becomes necessary. A guardianship proceeding would appoint someone to care for you and remove some or all of your legal rights.
This declaration allows you to specify who you want to be appointed your guardian if you become incapacitated and need one. It also allows you to specify individuals who should not be considered. You can have control of your future with these simple documents.