If it has been awhile since you reviewed your estate plan (will, power of attorney, and advanced directives) it is possible that you may need to update your plan. While Federal estate taxes have changed and are no longer the driving concern an equally important part of your estate planning; healthcare planning; should not be overlooked.
National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD), April 16-22, 2018, is an initiative to “inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.”
The goal in advance care planning is to clarify your values, goals, and wishes that you want others to follow if they must make decisions for you, rather than trying to address every possible medical treatment.
An advance directive can express both what you want and what you don’t want.
Living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care are both types of health care advance directives in which you provide instructions about your health care wishes or appoint someone to make medical treatment decisions for you when you are no longer able to make them for yourself.
- Living Will –a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they become incapacitated. Typically, living wills address an individual’s preferences about end-of-life medical treatments.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (or Health Care Proxy) – a document in which you appoint someone else to make decisions about your health care in case you are not able to make those decisions yourself. The person you name is often called your attorney-in-fact for health care, agent or representative. You can also include instructions or guidelines for decision-making.
While most states do not require a particular form, they do have witnessing requirements or other special signing formalities that should be followed. Be sure to check with your attorney for specific State requirements.
Our friends at Samaritan have provided a link to their web site where you can download Five Wishes – A Living Will Document; a terrific resource for advanced healthcare planning.
A living will, like Five Wishes, is a way for you to give consent for certain situations where you might want or not want treatment. You can appoint someone to make decisions for you, if you can’t do so for yourself. It gives you a better chance of having your wishes carried out, when you can’t speak for yourself.
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