Have you recently been grappling with creating an estate plan for a loved one in hospice care? If so, you’re not alone. Many people find themselves in this situation, and it can be challenging to know what to do, especially if it’s a situation you’re dealing with for the first time.
Before we get into estate planning for someone in hospice care, it’s essential to understand what hospice care is. Hospice is end-of-life care that focuses on managing pain and symptoms rather than trying to cure the underlying disease.
It’s typically provided in the home but can get administered at a hospice facility or hospital. Hospice care aims to make the person as comfortable as possible and help them live their final days with dignity.
An individual must be diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a six-month or less life expectancy to be eligible for Hospice care. They must also elect to receive hospice care and sign a hospice Election Statement document.
This document essentially says that the person has chosen to receive hospice care instead of other types of medical treatment. Once the document is signed, the person’s doctor must certify that they meet the eligibility requirements for hospice care.
Hospice care generally includes the following services:
Medicaid, Medicare, and most private insurance plans cover Hospice Care. However, some out-of-pocket costs, such as medications or medical equipment, could be associated with hospice care.
One of the common misconceptions about hospice care is that there’s a time limit on how long someone can receive it. In reality, there is no time limit for hospice care.
Instead, the decision to continue hospice care or discontinue it is made on a case-by-case basis by the family, the hospice team, and the patient’s physician. Working together, they’ll assess the situation every few months to decide whether or not continuing hospice care is the best course of action.
Now that we know the answer to the question, “What is hospice care?” let’s move on to the next topic of estate planning.
Estate planning for someone in hospice care generally involves three main tasks:
A final will is a legal document that dictates how a person’s assets will get distributed after death. If the person doesn’t have a will, their assets will get divided according to state laws.
A power of attorney legally grants authority to someone else to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of the person in hospice care.
A healthcare proxy is a legal document that designates someone else to make medical decisions on behalf of the person in hospice care if they cannot do so themselves.
Putting these three things in place can help ensure that the person’s wishes get carried out after passing. In addition, this clarification helps to minimize the risk of conflict among family members after the person’s death.
If you’re unsure where to start with estate planning for a loved one in hospice care, here are some places you can begin.
First, talk with the person about their wishes. It’s essential to have an open and honest conversation about what they want, both in terms of their medical care and their final wishes. While this is undoubtedly a challenging and emotional conversation for all involved, it’s essential to have it, so the person’s wishes are made known to all.
Depending on the circumstances or situation, you might want to consider having an estate attorney present for this conversation to document their statement.
Once you understand the person’s wishes, you can begin to put the necessary legal documents in place. As we mentioned earlier, these generally include a will, a power of attorney, and a healthcare proxy.
If you’re unsure how to create these documents, your best bet is to consult with an estate attorney. They can help you ensure that the papers are legally binding, providing you and your loved one with peace of mind knowing their affairs will get handled per their final wishes.
For immediate assistance, give our team of Toledo estate planning attorneys a call now! 419.662.3100