POLST & COVID-19: Are Your Legal Documents Current & Do They Reflect Your Wishes?

Dr. Susan Tolle, Chair of the Oregon POLST Coalition, created a 5-minute video that guides viewers through a POLST form (Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). This standardized, single page, brightly colored form can be vital for healthcare providers in managing fragile or seriously ill patients towards the end of life, and particularly helpful for managing one’s wishes for intensive care treatment and assisted breathing with ventilators.

It is important to note that not everyone needs a POLST – it is for the seriously ill. An Advance Directive is another standardized, but more complex, legal document that also sets forth your wishes for medical care and life-sustaining treatments and/or designates a Health Care Representative to express those wishes to healthcare providers, should you be unable to speak for yourself. Everyone should have a properly executed Advance Directive, for the unforeseen, but not everyone, necessarily needs a POLST; it depends on your medical condition.

Victoria Blachly: SYK Attorney

Victoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases and causes. She is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.

The Pandemic Makes the Power of Attorney More Important Than Ever

“Have a financial Power of Attorney. And a health care Power of Attorney, also known as an Advance Directive. These legal documents are terrific tools to help navigate the typical administrative run around that we all face”.

Do you have a loved one living in a care facility and due to Covid-19 they are not able to leave? Or are you self-isolating in your home and unable to run your typical errands? Are any of your or your loved one’s financial or medical needs being unmet due to the Coronavirus? If so, you’re not alone.

I recently received a call from a daughter whose elderly mother was stuck in a care facility.  Both the daughter and her mother were befuddled because all of the mother’s financial affairs were on hold.

As a general practice the daughter would organize her mother’s monthly bills and go through them with her. She would help her mother write checks to pay her doctor co-pays, her cable bill, etc. Also the daughter would join her mother on calls to manage her mother’s banking and investments needs.

Now the daughter can’t visit her mother. And both women wanted to know if they would be in trouble with bill collectors or at the very least pay a lot of late fees if they were not able to timely address mom’s financial affairs.

My advice in these types of situations is to have a financial Power of Attorney. And a health care Power of Attorney, also known as an Advance Directive. These legal documents are terrific tools to help navigate the typical administrative run around that we all face with banks, doctor’s offices, investment companies, etc.

With a financial Power of Attorney the mother could officially grant her daughter with the legal authority to manage and help with her financial affairs.  And the daughter would be able to write the checks and make calls for her mother.  With an Advance Directive it would be much easier for the daughter to talk with her mother’s doctor and other health care providers.

Even though we may never have another Covid-19 pandemic that impacts everyone, life happens and you never know when you may not be able to address your affairs because of an illness or injury.  We never know when we may find ourselves or our loved ones in one of these situations. So it is incredibly important for all adults to have both a financial and medical Power of Attorney naming someone to speak on their behalf and manage their affairs.

These are documents that are not just important for older adults. They are important for young adults too. I have seen a number of young adults injured in accidents and unable to manage their own affairs. Many headaches and delays could be avoided with a little advance planning.

If you have more questions or want to talk about a Power of Attorney or other estate planning issues, contact one of our estate planning attorneys.

Anastasia (Stacie) Yu Meisner is a member of the SYK Estate Planners practice. Her practice focuses on estate planning, mediation, probate, trust and estate administration. In addition, she also works with guardianships and conservatorships, as well as business transactions and formation.