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Making a Plan for Health Care Decisions

The purpose of creating your estate plan isn’t only to determine what happens to your assets after you pass away.  Estate planning also serves to protect you and your loved ones by outlining a plan for making medical decisions if you are unable to do so yourself.  As with all aspects of your estate plan, the time to take action is now: when you are healthy and capable of making decisions on your own.  If an injury or illness renders you incapacitated, it will be too late.

If you don’t have a plan that expresses your wishes about medical decisions, your family may have to make decisions on your behalf or petition the court for a conservatorship.  In either situation, the decisions made about your medical care may not be made the way you would have wanted or by the person you would have chosen.

Put your wishes in writing to ensure that they are carried out the way you would like them to  be handled.  This also spares your family the burden of guessing about what you would have wanted.

To prepare for the future, your estate planning attorney will help you to execute the following documents

Your living will (sometimes called “advance directives” or “health care directives”):

This document expresses your preferences for the use of life-sustaining medical procedures like artificial breathing and feeding, invasive diagnostic tests, surgery and pain medication.  Your living will also specifies the situations in which these procedures should be used or withheld.

Your health care power of attorney (also known as “health care proxies” or “durable powers of attorney for health care”):

This document authorizes a person you trust to make medical decisions or to consent to medical treatment on your behalf when you’re unable to do so yourself.

These two documents will serve to guide health care providers in the event that you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and will appoint a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Ensure that your living will and health care power of attorney are readily accessible so that your plan can be put into action if the time comes.

We are here to help.  If you have questions about estate planning, our experienced attorneys at Fingeret Law can help to ensure your decisions will protect your best interests.  Contact us today to learn more.