Equally important as a will are the following documents which ensure your estate as well as your self will be cared for during periods of incapacity. The following documents are prepared during each will engagement and come into play prior to your death:
- Living Will or Advance Directives to Physicians;
- Medical Power of Attorney for Healthcare; and
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney.
Living Will and Power of Attorney for Healthcare
Most people do not think about who will make medical decisions for them in the event they become incapacitated and unable to speak for themselves. Whatever the cause of one’s incapacity, a little bit of planning will prevent undesirable decisions made on your behalf. Also, a small bit of planning will make certain decesions are made concerning your medical state. And without these documents, which clearly state your desires and opinions, your family may begin to feud over the choices they are faced with and incure substantial legal costs as they battle it out in court.
Living Will or Advance Directives to Physicians
A living will details the type of care you want if you become incapacitated and death is imminent. Typically addressed in a living will are the following types of treatments:
- Life-prolonging care – life-prolonging care includes CPR, blood transfusions, use of a respirator, surgery, dialysis, and other life-prolonging treatments
- Food and Hydration – food and hydration refer to a intravenous and tube feeding and hydration while a patient is permanently comatose or near death. Without the patients consent a doctor cannot withhold food and hydration.
- Palliative Care (Comfort Care) – palliative care refers to a patient’s quality of life while dying naturally. Palliative care focuses on allowing the patient to pass as comfortable as possible.
Each of the above addressed areas work together to effectuate the best possible plan for the worst possible scenarios. For example, if you desire to have forgo life-prolonging care as well as food and hydration but desire to have palliative care administered, your doctors will allow you to naturally pass as comfortable as possible.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
A power attorney for healthcare, similar to a financial power of attorney, appoints an agent, usually known as a Healthcare Agent, to make decisions for you when you are unable t odo so for yourself. A living will address periods normally associated with the last moments of life, while a power attorney for healthcare provides an agent to make healthcare decisions for you while you are incapacitated. A power attorney for healthcare goes beyond a living will, the agent usually has the power to:
- hire or fire medical personnel;
- consent or refuse to consent to medical treatments;
- gain access to medical records; and
- visit after visiting hours are over.
Simply, planning for your incapacity is healthy choice. It is never too early to do so. Call us to schedule a free consultation.