Estate Planning Estate Planning Part 3: Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney
A complete estate plan includes more than a will or trust to determine your wishes for your estate after your passing. A thorough plan will also include an Advance Health Care Directive that allows you to make your own decisions regarding your care and treatment at the end of life.
You have opinions on what kind of treatment you would want in the event of an illness or injury. Have you shared these with the people who matter? What if you were unable to communicate these wishes to your loved ones or to the physicians attending to you? Would you want your family to have to guess what treatments or care you would prefer? An Advance Health Care Directive removes all of the guesses and what-ifs from this situation and allows you to remain in control of your treatment decisions.
The Advance Health Care Directive will tell your physicians and family what kind of treatment, testing, or procedures that you would want. You can determine what is important to you at the end of your life. Would you prefer to be treated at home, in a nursing home, or at a hospital? Are there specific treatments that you would or would not want? Do you have preferences for pain management or hospice care? Do you have specific thoughts on resuscitation or organ donation?
These are some of the many questions that you alone know your thoughts and wishes on. If you are unable to communicate these, your family members may be left to guess at your preferences in a time of extreme stress. By preparing an Advance Health Care Directive ahead of time, you will have the peace of mind of knowing you are cared for in the manner that you choose and that your family can rest easy knowing they are carrying out your treatment the way you wish.
Another thing to consider in the event of an illness is what happens to your will, trust, or estate if you have become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own behalf? When putting together your estate plan, you will also have the opportunity to select a durable power of attorney. This person, a trusted friend, family member, or any person that you select to carry out your wishes, is known as an agent. This agent may be a power of attorney for healthcare, making health care decisions on your behalf. Your agent may also be a power of attorney for legal and financial matters.
Making estate plan decisions may feel like an overwhelming task, but that is no reason to delay. A trusted attorney can help you through the process and guide you through making the decisions that are best for you and your loved ones. If you would like more information on estate planning documents like a will, trust, health care directive, or power of attorney, please contact me. A small amount of planning can make a big difference to the people who matter to you the most.
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