It is easy to think of estate planning as something that will only go into effect when you die. This isn’t accurate. Your estate plan should cover your wishes and plans for medical care when you are nearing the end of your life.
Thinking about the time just before your death isn’t easy; however, without making the plans you have clear, you can’t ensure that your wishes will be followed. There are several things to think about when you are setting things up.
What should be included in my estate plan regarding this matter?
You need to include a living will and a power of attorney for health care. The living will gives your medical providers written instructions that they should follow. You can write out the important things that you want or don’t want when it comes to medical care. Things like whether you want to receive intravenous nutrition and hydration can be spelled out here.
One thing that you should remember is that you need to have a Do Not Resuscitate Order if you don’t want heroic measures taken to save your life. A copy of this needs to be included in your medical record at facilities where you might end up going for care.
Because you can’t cover every situation in your living will, you need to appoint a power of attorney for health care. This person will make medical decisions for you when the need arises.
When do these components come into the picture?
All of these come into the picture when you are unable to make decisions on your own. If you aren’t incapacitated and can convey your wishes, these won’t be valid. For example, if you go to the hospital for surgery, your power of attorney can’t walk in and start ordering doctors to change the care plan as long as you can speak up for yourself and have the ability to understand the possible implications of your decisions.
Source: FindLaw, “The Definition of Power of Attorney, Living Will and Advance Directives,” accessed May 18, 2018