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What elder law documents should one have besides a will?

A person in New Jersey might take the wise step of executing a will, but that is not the only document they should have in their estate planning arsenal. This blog has discussed the importance of including a living will, health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney in one's estate plan. However, there are other elder law documents a person might want to consider drafting, to make sure their estate plan meets their wishes.

One document that may be worth having is a "Physician orders for life sustaining treatment" (POLST). This is a form a person fills out with their physician, and once signed is included in the person's medical records. Medical professionals must abide by a person's POLST when providing care. Not all states have POLST forms, so New Jersey residents interested in executing one will want to seek guidance to determine whether it is an option for them.

Another document one might want to include in their estate plan is a "Do not resuscitate" order (DNR) and a "Do not intubate" order (DNI). Those who execute such forms will want to make sure they are accessible to the medical professionals treating them, for example, by keeping the document in their hospital room. That way the orders will be followed even in emergency situations.

A third document that can be made a part of one's estate plan is a diminishing capacity letter. This document permits a named professional to contact certain people if the professional observes that one's health has diminished, either physically, mentally, psychologically or cognitively.

Some people choose to execute a personal property memorandum. This document contains detailed information on who is to inherit what through one's will, which could reduce the chance that an heir will challenge the will. Also, a person can execute a digital assets memorandum that lays out who the person wants to have access to their digital assets after they pass away. Some digital assets that may be included in a digital asset memorandum include email accounts and social media accounts.

These are only some examples of additional elder law documents that can augment a will. Having a well-rounded estate plan is important in ensuring that you will receive the elder care you desire and that your wishes will be met as laid out in your will. They are legal documents, however, so one may want to make sure they meet all the formalities necessary to make such documents enforceable.

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