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Power of Attorney and Advance Directive Resources
Power of Attorney and Advance Directive Resources
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Maintaining a comfortable, secure retirement is normally seen through a financial lens: Create and follow a budget to maximize your savings so your money will last your lifetime. Even your own healthcare can be seen through the financial lens. There's nothing wrong with this kind of planning and, in fact, we encourage this kind of planning.
However, we'd like to encourage a deeper kind of planning in retirement, the kind of planning that will not only benefit you financially but will increase your peace of mind.
It can be emotionally difficult to think about a health issue that might keep you from being able to conduct your necessary business. It's even more difficult to think about giving control to a patient advocate should you be hospitalized and unable to make decisions yourself.
That's why we recommend planning as early in the cycle as possible, before it becomes necessary to do so.
This section will describe two things you may want to consider as part of your retirement planning:
- The financial power of attorney, which is needed for your representative to conduct business with the Michigan Office of Retirement Services (ORS) if you become incapacitated, and
- An advance directive, which is not technically needed to conduct business with ORS but may provide guidance to your family members about the kind of healthcare you receive at the end of your life.
Please remember, you retain control over these decisions right now, while you're healthy. Begin a conversation with your loved ones about these issues. We've provided information and resources that will help you with this planning.
Financial Power of Attorney for Your Retirement Business with ORS
The financial power of attorney is a legal document authorizing someone to act on your behalf to conduct financial business. Copies of this document can be filed with any organization with which you conduct financial business, including ORS.
After filing the financial power of attorney, your representative will be allowed to conduct business with ORS related to pension payments, pension tax withholdings, and tax documents (like the Form 1099-R). Your representative can also conduct business related to medical, prescription drug, dental, and vision insurance coverage; changes; or premium payments. Your representative is not allowed, for statutory reasons, to change beneficiaries for any reason on any type of account.
Filing a power of attorney form with ORS sets certain actions into motion. Be sure when you file the form that you really want the following things to happen:
- ORS will be able to discuss your account with your named representative, just as if it were you on the phone. Without this form, regardless of your family relationship, we cannot release any financial or health information. If you file a financial power of attorney, we could talk to either you or your representative. However, if conservator or guardianship papers are also filed, we could only talk to your representative.
- The address listed for your named representative on the financial power of attorney becomes the address of record for all mailings. Be sure when you file that you intend to have this action taken. The representative will need to keep us updated if their address changes.
- ORS will share the name and address of your representative with your insurance carriers so they may also use that address as the address of record for all mailings.
- You can revoke your financial power of attorney, but you must do so in writing with a copy to all parties, including ORS and your representative.
Power of Attorney Forms in Michigan
ORS does not have a standard power of attorney form. In fact, power of attorney forms vary by state. Click on the link below for a collection of appropriate forms for use in Michigan. The durable power of attorney form at the top of the list will continue to be in effect even if you became incapacitated. The general power of attorney form, however, will not continue if you become incapacitated. Please note: If you complete a financial power of attorney, you are called the principal. The person(s) you name as your representative is called the agent or the attorney in fact.
Think About an Advance Directive
While you're in the process of considering a financial power of attorney, you may want to consider a more comprehensive approach toward both your finances and health care in retirement.
There is no better time than today to ensure that, not only your financial representative is named, but also that your future health preferences are known, respected, and honored.
It's difficult for anyone to make decisions when diagnosed with an illness or faced with an end-of-life situation. It's far easier to start a conversation with your loved ones about what to do in the future while you're healthy. There are so many decisions to make, like:
- What kind of care do you want to receive
- Where will you receive healthcare
- Who can make medical decisions for you if you're unable to make those decisions
Though it may be initially uncomfortable, the early conversations with your loved ones ensure your values are respected and understood. Deciding these difficult things in advance lessens the burden on family members during times of great stress.
A conversation is a great beginning, but a more formal document, known as an advance directive, will clearly state your wishes about a course of medical treatment should something happen to you.
There are typically two parts to an advance directive:
- A living will states your desire regarding life-sustaining medical treatments. Although a living will is not legally binding in Michigan, it lays the groundwork for the types of decisions you've made and gives direction to your loved ones about your wishes. And, also...
- A durable power of attorney for healthcare will name someone to make medical decisions for you if you aren't able to make those decisions for yourself. This person is known as the patient advocate.
You do not need file your advance directive with ORS. We only need the financial power of attorney to transact retirement business. We recommend the advance directive as something you may want to consider for your future.
Recent studies revealed that about 75% - maybe even as high as 90% - of people do not have an advance directive in place. Lack of awareness is cited as the most prevalent reason people have not completed one.
The advantages, however, are clear: You can get the medical care you want and avoid unnecessary suffering. You also lessen the burden on caregivers to make decisions for you and reduce confusion or disagreement about your choices.
Although advance directives are not absolutely necessary, we strongly encourage you to consider completing an advance directive. It will give you and your loved ones peace of mind that you are facing your future with confidence and dignity.
External Planning Resources
Myths and Facts About Health Care Advance Directives
The document prepared by the Commission on Law & Aging provides clear answers to what's true and what's not true regarding Advance Directives.
Planning for Your Peace of Mind: A Guide to Medical Legal Decisions
This booklet, though not a substituted for legal advice, can help you organize the information about your personal, financial, and medical information for your family.
This website from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization contains information about Advance Care Planning, Caregiving, Hospice & Palliative Care, and Grief and Loss. The site also has files to use in completing an Advance Directive. The files for filling out an Advance Directive in Michigan can be found here.
MIPeaceofMind; Michigan's Advance Directive Registry
This website is the home of Michigan's Advance Directive Registry. If you complete an Advance Directive and wish to ensure that family members can access the document should you be unable to do so, this website gives you the opportunity to open an account and upload your document for easy access. Just be sure to share the account information and password with someone you trust so they know the document is stored there.
Blue Cross | Blue Shield | Blue Care Network
This section of the BCBSM website contains answers to frequently asked questions about Advance Directives. The site also provides links to the kinds of forms necessary for completion of your Advance Directive.
The Conversation Project
The Conversation Project website states they are “dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.” Click on the “starter kit” link at the top of the page for ideas as to how to begin a conversation with your loved-ones about end-of-life care.