What are Advanced Directives?

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What is a Power of Attorney?

What would happen if you became incapacitated and could no longer make medical decisions or financial decisions? This question frequently comes up during estate planning

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if you or a loved one became incapacitated or were facing end-of-life decisions? These decisions can be some of the most important choices that one will ever have to make. The goal for most people is to ease the burden on loved ones and ensure that your wishes and preferences are followed. In order for you to achieve your objectives, there are estate planning tools called advanced directives, which encompass different forms of legal documents that explain how you want medical decisions made if you are incapacitated and cannot make these decisions. The most common types of advanced directives are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care.

Living Will

A living will is a written legal instruction involving your medical decisions if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. This is always recommended to have in an estate plan as it ensures that your decisions are respected and also takes burdens off of loved ones in a time of crisis. For example, if you are incapacitated and on life support then your living will would contain medical directions so that your loved ones do not have the emotional burden of making these choices for you. The only time that this legal document will be used to guide medical decisions to ensure that it is following your wishes will be when it is confirmed by a physician that you are unable to make medical decisions and that you are in a medical condition that is deemed to be terminal or you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness. There are multiple considerations to think about when planning your living will, which include the following: cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis, Antibiotics or antiviral medications, Palliative care (pain management), organ and tissue donations, and body donation.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A medical power of attorney will designate an individual to make medical decisions when you are incapacitated and unable to made decisions for yourself. This legal document gives an agent the power to make all medical decisions that you have provided for in your durable power of attorney for health care, such powers could include: personal care management, hiring of a personal care assistant, decision making power over medical treatment, and making decisions on medical treatments overall. Choosing an agent can be a very personal experience as this individual will be able to make very important medical decisions in times of crisis. Not everybody will be prepared to make these decisions and it is important that you talk about this responsibility and scope of decision making with the prospective health care agent.

What Should I Do Now?

Having an updated living will and durable power of attorney for health care is essential to ensure that your wishes are followed and that you lessen the immense emotional burden of decision making for your loved ones. These are two documents that are essential in any estate plan and should be carefully planned out. If you or a loved one are contemplating updating your estate plan, please give The Sauter Law Firm a call and set up a free consultation at 513-341-5078.