The discussion of end of life plans is accompanied by a complex series of emotions, but the more prepared you are the easier navigating you or your loved one’s final phase of life will be when the time comes. It is important to remember that the final phase of life is a natural, universal, and unavoidable experience. Just like any other phase, it has both its challenges and its rewards. By putting together an end of life planning guide and knowing how you want to respond to each major decision, you’ll be at ease to enjoy your final phase of life.
At Hospice of South Louisiana, we encourage people to come up with a hospice plan before they reach the terminal stage of their illness and require hospice services. Additionally, there are 3 main steps that need to be taken to prepare for the end of life. Hospice of South Louisiana has created an End of Life Planning Guide, showing you how to organize your affairs so you can enjoy your final phase of life.
1. Choose a Care Advocate
The role of the care advocate is to honor and uphold your interests and wishes through your final phase of life. The care advocate is responsible for:
- Allocating funding to cover all required services
- Deciding on care options if the patient is unable to do so themselves
- Arranging all required services
While next of kin and adult children can make wonderful, dedicated care advocates, their emotional attachment may prevent them from honoring your wishes when it comes to sensitive matters such as resuscitation. It may be easier for someone who isn’t as emotionally involved to uphold medical wishes.
However, whomever you select needs to be worthy of your complete trust. Care advocates are often given your power of attorney and will have access to your financial information. If you’re worried your family will not uphold your wishes, consider choosing a trusted friend, attorney, or advisor.
2. Pre-Plan for Medicaid
Avoid draining your financial resources by meeting with an elder law attorney to pre-plan for Medicaid. Medicaid assists with medical costs for those with limited income and resources. Medicaid’s basic eligibility requirements are:
- The Medicaid recipient must either be no younger than 65, or they must be disabled
- The Medicaid recipient must have less than $2,000 in personal assets
However, with pre-planning, you needn’t have drained a lifetime of savings to receive assistance from Medicaid. Instead, you can strategically prepare yourself for financial eligibility in anticipation of your physical disability from old age or terminal illness.
Here are the dangers of waiting until the moment of crisis to plan for Medicaid:
- Resources will drain quickly
- Crisis Medicaid planning with an elder law attorney is more costly than pre-planning due to its time constraints.
- In the moment of crisis, you may be incapable of divulging the necessary financial information.
However, when you preplan for Medicaid, you’re able to:
- Save your spouse or adult child from struggling to uncover financial information when they want to be by your side.
- Purchase a long-term-care insurance plan to provide care without draining your assets
- Have an elder law attorney shelter money before you’ve reached a crisis state.
- Avoid common mistakes made in desperation such as giving away assets. Medicaid classifies gifts as uncompensated transfers, and they create complex tax problems which result in long-term Medicaid ineligibility.
3. End of Life Planning Guide For After You’re Gone
While we don’t like to dwell on it, death comes to us all. By making funeral arrangements in advance, you’re able to continue to care for your loved ones after you’re gone by removing the pressures of burial planning and expenses from your family. Here’s how you can help:
- Decide how you want to be buried. This should be your choice. In their grief, family members may spend enormous amounts of money in a well-intentioned attempt to honor your life. By stating your wishes in advance, it removes the pressure from your family members to guess at what your burial wishes would have been, and it prevents them from selecting overly elaborate burial and funeral options.
- Purchase a funeral trust. While outlining wishes relieves a tremendous amount of pressure, purchasing a funeral trust will truly mitigate the burden from your grieving family members. By paying a funeral or burial service provider for their services in advance, you secure an agreed-upon price point. There are two types of funeral trusts:
- Revocable funeral trusts are revocable and changeable at any time
- Irrevocable funeral trusts are neither revocable or changeable
The primary benefit of the irrevocable funeral trust is that it often assists in the qualification for Medicaid’s long-term care benefits. Irrevocable funeral trusts are purchased with assets that would otherwise count against you when Medicaid determines your eligibility.
We Offer End of Life Care
While it is advantageous to follow our end of life planning guide before you reach your final phase of life by selecting a care advocate, pre-planning for Medicaid, and establishing a plan for after you are gone, there will still come the need for quality, comprehensive care when you reach your final stage of life. As the longest operating hospice in our state, Hospice of South Louisiana partners with our patients and their families to help them achieve their highest quality of life as specified by their own wishes.