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Blooming Southern Magnolia
April 2019 News
National Health Care Decisions Day
April 16 th is National Health Care Decisions Day. Approximately only one-third of adults in the United States have any form of a written advance health care directive, or medical power of attorney document, to designate who they want to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapable of making those medical decisions for themselves. Therefore, the goal of National Health Care Decisions Day is to educate the public about the importance of having a medical power of attorney document in place.

If you do not have a medical power of attorney in place, or if you know someone who does not have a medical power of attorney, use this as an opportunity to talk to an attorney and learn more about what you need to do to make sure that you are protected in the event of incapacity and that people of your choosing will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf. While you are planning for the possibility of future incapacity, a good attorney should also recommend that you execute a durable power of attorney. This will ensure that a trusted family member or friend will be able to use your finances to pay for the medical treatment that your medical agent authorizes on your behalf, as well as manage the rest of your legal and financial affairs in the event of your incapacity.

If you do already have a medical power of attorney, then use this as an opportunity to make sure that your document will protect you adequately and still meets your wishes. For example, is your agent still an appropriate person to serve? Do you have a successor agent named in case your primary agent becomes unable to serve? Does your agent have HIPAA authority to speak to your doctors so she can make an informed decision about your care? Does your document contain language stating that medical professionals can rely on the decisions your agent makes?

Once you ensure that your agent has the proper legal authority, he will need to make your medical decisions, you must also consider whether your agent knows what types of choices you would want him to make on your behalf. A good medical power of attorney document will provide guidance to your agent about your specific wishes. After all, it is difficult to step into someone else’s shoes and make these very personal medical decisions, so providing detailed guidance is a gift to your agent and to yourself to give peace of mind in knowing that your wishes will be known, even if you become incapable of articulating what those wishes are at the time decisions need to be made.

Among the most sensitive decisions to be made is the decision of what treatment you would want to receive when your death is imminent. Many people elect to state their wishes for end-of-life treatment in a separate document, called a living will, instead of including this language in the medical power of attorney document. By expressing your wishes in a living will, you are ensuring that your end-of-life wishes are honored once a doctor determines that you are near death, instead of leaving this final decision up to the discretion of your medical agent.

In addition to stating these wishes in your medical power of attorney and living will documents, it may be wise to talk with your medical agent about your medical wishes. So often, people delay having this conversation, knowing that it will not be a cheerful one. However, having a frank discussion now can reduce anxiety and heartache for both you and your agent if and when your agent needs to act.

National Health Care Decisions Day (NHCDD) is a day of education and awareness, to encourage more individuals to plan for health care decisions. To learn more, click this link .
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In case you missed it...
Common Scams and How to Avoid Them
By Elizabeth D. Johnson
These days, anyone can be a victim of a fraudulent scam. Scammers tend to prey on those in a vulnerable position, such as victims of a natural disaster, family members with a recently deceased relative, or the elderly. The most common scams today can be via telephone calls, e-mails, social media, or even in person. According to the National Council on Aging, senior citizens are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts, making them a target for scams by not only strangers, but family members or caretakers. Below we will touch on a few frequent scams so that you can identify suspicious behavior and keep yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim:

The Medicare Scam

Most citizens aged 65 and over qualify for Medicare, making it unnecessary for scammers to try and figure out what health insurance company older people use. The perpetrators usually pose as a Medicare Representative and ask for personal information or provide needless services for the elderly at mobile clinics, then use the personal information to bill Medicare and pocket the money. Always be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim that Medicare will pay for, and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.

The Grandparent Scam

This one has been around for years. A scammer will call an older adult pretending to be a grandchild or other family member who has recently been in an accident or in legal trouble and needs money immediately. In the past, these frauds have gotten the victim to use wire transfers or gift cards to move the money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, seniors have also been mailing the cash using envelopes hidden in the pages of magazines. If you or someone you know receives this type of call, it is important not to act right away and to call another family member or a well-known phone number of the grandchild who is supposedly calling.

The Natural Disaster Scam

With the frequency of natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, or tornadoes, scammers have found a new route to steal money from the downtrodden. They will target those who have been directly affected by a natural disaster or those who want to offer their support. Typically, they will impersonate charities and may set up fake websites with names that mimic legitimate charities to get money and personal information. They can also pretend to be the IRS to collect personal information under the guise of helping victims file loss claims and get tax refunds. To avoid falling victim to these scams, use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization search to find legitimate charities or the disaster relief page for information regarding tax relief.

The Funeral Scam

There aren’t many things a scammer won’t do to make a profit, including taking advantage of those who have recently experienced a major loss. Sometimes, a person will use obituaries to contact family members and claim that the decedent has an outstanding debt which needs to be paid immediately. Another funeral-related scam comes from those who provide you a service no one else can: the funeral director. The FTC created a federal rule which requires funeral directors to provide you with a detailed price list before you decide to work with them and to let you order only the products or services you want. Unfortunately, some funeral directors don’t play by these rules and making some clients believe they need to purchase more than they want or can afford. Even though it is a difficult time and you will be grieving, know your rights under the Funeral Rule and your state’s law concerning embalming, coffins, burial, and cremation. That way, you can know if a funeral home is trying to overcharge you with unneeded items. 

Regrettably, this is just a small list of the possible scams you or someone you know could fall victim to. If you ever feel that you or a loved one has been or will be a victim of a scam, report it to the appropriate authority and feel free to call us if you need help.

Additional information:

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Helena S. Mock, Esq.

461 McLaws Circle, Suite 2
Williamsburg, VA 23185 
Phone: 757-969-1900