Why Your Clients’ Medical Documents Need an Annual Exam

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Financial advisors understand the importance of planning ahead, thinking long-term, and looking at the big picture. Having a plan in place helps protect and grow wealth.

Planning is equally important in health care.

With both health and wealth, planning for the future means having certain documents in place – and making sure that they are current. On the financial side, estate planning is a priority. From a health perspective, a living will and other medical paperwork are just as essential.

Many people procrastinate when it comes to completing or updating their medical documents until something goes wrong, but at that point it may be too late. Now is the best time for you and your clients to get your medical and end-of-life paperwork in order. It's worth revisiting these documents annually in case any of your plans or preferences need updating.

Essential medical documentation, explained

Marti Jo McCoy, LCSW, is a senior health advisor with my firm, Better Health Advisors. She is also trained as a professional guardian in the state of Florida. Below, she answers some common questions about setting up essential medical paperwork.

What is a living will? A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that explains your healthcare wishes. It becomes effective when you are unable to make your own decisions. For example, if someone is seriously injured in a car accident and reliant on machines to keep them alive, a living will lets their family members know if they want their life prolonged in that way.

Who needs a living will? Everybody. Even someone who is 20 years old should have one, because medical problems happen at any age. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that there is no rhyme or reason to who may have a medical incident.

Why is it important to set up a living will now? If you wait until you need a living will, in many cases, it’s too late to set one up. At that point, making a decision about your health may require an expensive legal process, and sometimes a decision needs to be made immediately.

What is a medical surrogate? This is also called a healthcare proxy or healthcare power of attorney. By completing this document, you’re appointing someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.