Secure the Future of Your Health Care While You Are Healthy
For many people, estate planning is associated with the elderly, especially those who are nearing the end of their lives and need to start planning accordingly. However, these mainstream associations are based on prevailing misconceptions about estates. Estate planning isn’t just a matter of how your finances and assets are distributed upon your death. Another crucial aspect of estate planning that many people don’t think of is preparing for your health care if you should become unable to do so. It can seem a bit morbid to think about, but the nature of life is such that circumstances can change from one moment to the next. An accident or illness can suddenly leave you incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. This is why it is so important to not delay estate planning.
Whether you are young or old, the importance of having an estate plan in place cannot be understated, especially where your health care is concerned. Having the proper documentation for your health care plans before you need it is far preferable to the alternative. Without an estate plan comprised of the necessary health care designations, you may end up having someone you don’t want making major medical decisions for you. Don’t leave your health care decisions in the hands of someone else. If you can have your estate records arranged by an attorney, do so while you are fit and able.
A more delicate point to consider is that an estate plan not only provides health care security for you, but assurance for your loved ones. The illness or injury of a family member can be emotionally distressing. The last thing you want to do is add more worries. Give your loved ones at least a little peace of mind by having a plan in place should the worst happen. Doing so will give them the comfort of knowing they are honoring your wishes.
Health Care Documents Within an Estate Plan
Drafting an estate plan may seem like an overwhelming amount of paperwork to sort through, but a professional estate planning attorney can break it down for you. When it comes to the medical portion of an estate plan, there are two key documents that you must file properly and sign with your lawyer. These are: a health care declaration and a health care power of attorney.
As a side note, different practices may assign different titles to these documents. For example, a health care declaration may be referred to as a living will or sometimes as advanced directives. Similarly, a health care power of attorney can be called health care proxies or durable medical power of attorney. For our purposes and to avoid confusion, we will continue to refer to them as a healthcare declaration and health care power of attorney.
These two documents serve related purposes within an estate plan. They inform medical professionals as to what course to take if you become unable to communicate with them while living. Also, they allow you to choose a person to make decisions on your behalf and in accordance with your wishes.
Let’s take a look at these in closer detail.
Health Care Declaration
A health care declaration, as previously mentioned, gives health care professionals a guide to providing you with life-sustaining treatments in the event that you become unable to communicate your wishes. This particular document is geared towards end-of-life circumstances and corresponding treatment options for prolonging life. These may include the use of artificial breathing or feeding apparatuses, surgery, or certain medications. While you may not have control over the end of life, you do have control over the medical procedures you wish to receive and for how long. Also, if it’s your particular wish to not be placed on any life-sustaining treatment, then you can control that now as well. The important thing is to get in touch with your estate planning attorney and make these decisions while you are able to do so.
Health Care Power of Attorney
While the health care declaration lets you decide what treatment options are right for you under end-of-life circumstances, the health care power of attorney lets you choose who will be making these and other crucial medical decisions for you. This document gives authorization to whomever you name to make important health care decisions on your behalf in accordance with your living will. They can provide consent for a medical treatment proposed by a health care professional. They can arrange for you to be cared for within a nursing home. They can also decide when to stop life-sustaining treatments. Again, it is currently within your power to designate any person to this role, so take up the opportunity while you can.
Yes, it is important to get an estate plan for your financial protection, but securing the future of your medical care is also extremely vital. For everyone, old and young, there are significant points to consider, so it’s crucial to make these decisions now while you are able to speak up for yourself. Don’t let your health care fall into someone else’s hands. Take action and get in touch with an estate planning lawyer for your peace of mind and that of your loved ones.