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GUEST COLUMN: Choosing an Attorney-in-Fact or Healthcare Proxy

In legal and medical decision-making, appointing an attorney-in-fact or healthcare

proxy is crucial for ensuring one’s wishes are respected during incapacity. Julie Ehrlich, a Senior Care Manager at Arosa with 25+ years of healthcare experience, offers insights into selecting and communicating with these crucial appointees.

Selecting the Right Individual

Ehrlich advises selecting someone who aligns with your values and preferences. This person could be a family member, friend, lawyer, or someone from your social or spiritual community. She emphasizes naming alternate proxies if the primary appointee is unavailable.

Legal Considerations

Planning ahead is crucial. Safeguarding financial information, including bank accounts and insurance policies, ensures the attorney-in-fact can effectively manage finances. Similarly, sharing advanced directives with healthcare providers and the appointed proxy ensures medical preferences are honored.

Durable Power of Attorney vs. Healthcare Proxy

Ehrlich clarifies the distinction between these legal instruments. A Durable POA manages financial decisions, remaining valid even if the individual becomes incapacitated. Conversely, a Healthcare Proxy empowers someone to make medical decisions on the individual’s behalf.

Ensuring Understanding of Wishes

Effective communication is paramount. Ehrlich recommends thorough discussions with the chosen proxy about healthcare and financial preferences. Reviewing living wills and directives ensures clarity and alignment with the individual’s wishes.

Role of Communication

Continuous communication among the individual, proxy, and family members is vital. Detailed directives and ongoing updates enable informed decision-making, particularly as circumstances evolve.

Common Misconceptions and Pitfalls

Ehrlich believes that advanced directives are not only necessary for the elderly or ill. She emphasizes the importance of planning and the flexibility to update directives as needed.

Solo Agers or Elder Orphans

Some older individuals in our community have no family to support them and may not have appointed someone as a power of attorney. This can be particularly challenging as they age, but there are professionals who can act as a power of attorney for finances. Elder care attorneys, certified daily money managers, and geriatric care managers can serve as Health Care Proxy for planning and care.

Professionals can meet with clients to create a plan of care and assist with future

planning. Geriatric Care Managers can be found on the ALCA website

( Billing for services is typically hourly.

By understanding these legal considerations, individuals can ensure their affairs

are managed according to their wishes, even in times of incapacity.

Julie Ehrlich, a Certified Care Manager (CMC) since 2012, is dedicated to advocating for her clients’ well-being. Beyond her professional roles, she actively supports the Alzheimer’s Association, serves as an Independent Dementia Consultant for Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach for Care, and advocates for pancreatic cancer awareness in

memory of her late mother. Outside of work, she treasures time with her family and beloved dogs.



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