The Legal Corner by Sam A. Moak: How First Responders Can Protect Their Loved Ones

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The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances.

Over the past several weeks our first responders have been very busy, so they were on my mind.  While the Game Preserve Fire has been bad, it would be much worse without your bravery and dedication, which is truly appreciated. We recognize that your job can come with a lot of uncertainties and dangers. You spend your time coming to other people’s rescue, so it may be difficult for you to imagine a time when you might need help or rescue. However, such things happen to people every day.

So we want to help protect you and your loved ones from any potential emergencies by compiling a few things that you should consider:

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance can provide you with financial support when you can’t work due to an injury or disability. The amount of coverage you receive depends on the policy you choose. If you have disability insurance, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will still receive an income to support yourselves during tough times.

If you don’t have disability insurance or feel like your current coverage is not enough, it may be a good idea to talk to an insurance agent who can help you review your needs and find the right policy.

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney lets you choose someone you trust (an agent) to manage your finances for you, so you can focus on getting better. The agent can sign checks, open bank accounts, pay your bills, and anything similar. For peace of mind, you can specify what your agent can and can’t do to ensure that your financial affairs are in good hands.

Without a financial power of attorney, the court will need to step in and choose someone to manage your finances, which may not be the person you would have chosen.

Medical Power of Attorney

Similar to the financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney allows you to choose an agent to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself. The agent will be your voice in important health matters and will communicate with doctors and other medical professionals on your behalf.

If you don’t have a medical power of attorney in place, a court may have to choose someone to make these decisions for you, and that person may not be the one you would have chosen.

A Last Will and Testament

A Will is a legal document that can help protect your loved ones. It allows you to appoint someone, an executor, to transfer your money and property in case you pass away.

Advance Directive or Living Will

An advance directive, also called a living will in some states, is a legal document that lets you express your preferences about what medical treatment you would like to receive or NOT receive at the end of your life. This can make it easier for your loved ones to make medical decisions and prevent disagreements between them.

HIPAA authorization form

A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form allows you to give certain people access to your medical information, like updates on your condition or test results, without giving them the power to make decisions for you. This can help avoid conflicts between your chosen medical decision maker and other loved ones because they equally know the details about your condition.

Thank you for all you do!

You do so much to protect everyone else, and we want to take this opportunity to protect you. If you would like to discuss these items further or if you have additional questions, please contact us.

Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of MOAK & MOAK, P.C.  He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas and is a Member of the State Bar College.