Everyone Needs an Estate Plan – Does Your Family Know Your Medical Wishes?

Now that we have discussed some of the ways to both protect your assets and your loved ones with a will and living trust, let’s take a look at how you want to be taken care of if you become ill and cannot make decisions on your own. There are a couple of tools that can assist in carrying out your final medical wishes, including:

  1. Durable power of attorney (for health care) – This is also commonly called a health care proxy. You choose an individual who becomes your health care agent and can make all important medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This person only makes medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  2. Medical directive – This is also called a living will that states when it is acceptable or unacceptable to provide you with life-prolonging medical treatment or life support. The medical directive only goes into effect if you are incapacitated and a physician states you are unconscious or terminally ill.

Family members often struggle with making medical decisions for their loved ones since emotions play such a huge factor. By utilizing these two tools, you can alleviate much of the emotional burden associated with these decisions. You are taken care of the way you want to be taken care of and your family can be content in knowing that. In the final entry of this series on estate planning, we will discuss letters of instruction and beneficiary designations.