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Wills and mental incapacity

Approaching the topic of a will can result in many mixed emotions, especially when the loss of a loved one could be near. However painful discussing plans after death may be, establishing a will can offer support for surviving family members for years to come. The following information delves into the basics when a Floridian's mental capacity is diminished, leaving families with important decisions to make as a result.

Health resource Compassion and Support outlines steps to take when an aging loved one exhibits intellectual disabilities. Generally, a wise first step is to ask the family member who they trust to make important health care decisions. For cases in which an individual cannot make that choice, families may appoint a guardian to make medical decisions. These decisions can include life-support treatment. A person who can make these judgements on his or her own will need two adults present during the signing of documents; Compassion and Support reminds readers that one adult witness cannot be connected to the residential facility in any way, and one witness must be a certified clinical psychologist or physician. 

Once a family member has determined who will make important medical decisions for another individual, questions regarding the process can easily arise. AgingCare states the three legal documents that are critical in these procedures:

  • Health care proxy
  • HIPAA authorization
  • Advance health care directive

First, AgingCare explains that a health care proxy is another term for a legal document that allows a person to make health care decisions. It is crucial that the elderly individual is mentally competent during this step. The HIPAA (or Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) ensures the privacy of a person's records, and allows doctors to share information only when a patient gives consent to do so. Finally, an advance health care directive is a living will that enables individuals to make their own health care decisions later in life, in the case that a medical emergency occurs. As with any vital document, it is never a bad idea for families to openly discuss plans about the future. 

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