Comprehensive serious illness planning includes legal, financial, and medical planning. This kind of planning can be thought of as a three-legged stool.
If one plan is missing (legal, financial, or medical), the overall plan fails. The role lawyers play in their clients lives when it comes to preparing them to ‘think ahead and plan ahead’ is essential. Planning for serious illness in advance means clients are more likely to get the medical care that is right for them. Having a plan can significantly reduce family and personal stress and anxiety in the event of serious illness.
By providing resources and information, lawyers can help clients plan for future healthcare decisions and have conversations with family and health care professionals. Lawyers are also poised to discuss health care law with their clients, ensuring they understand the roles and responsibilities of substitute decision-makers (SDMs) as well as the importance of communicating values, preferences, and beliefs in case of serious illness. The goal of this advance planning work is to help patients (and their SDMs) to be ‘decisionally ready’ when they face serious illness and doctors are asking them to make life and death decisions.
Dr. Daren Heyland is a critical care physician and researcher who has been studying communication and decision-making when patients are seriously ill for more than 20 years. Through his work, Dr. Heyland sees the need for help with advance serious illness preparation and planning and has created a free online planning tool, www.planwellguide.com to enable this key step in the planning process. Plan Well Guide now features a section tailored specifically to legal planning professionals. It is full of new and updated resources and can be accessed for free by clicking here.
Feel free to contact Dr. Heyland directly to discuss how Plan Well Guide may benefit you and your clients at: [email protected].
Guest Post: Daren Heyland, Founder of Plan Well Guide