Your estate plan is obviously going to facilitate the transfer of your financial resources after you die. However, a comprehensive, holistic plan should also address the contingencies that you may face before you pass away.
This having been stated, incapacity is something that is quite common among elders. Incapacity planning will typically include the execution of a legally binding document called a durable power of attorney for health care.
If you were to become incapacitated, you would not be able to communicate your own medical decisions. Doctors may need answers, and you may not be in a position to provide them.
Different family members could have different ideas about the best way to proceed. This can create acrimony among loved ones during a difficult time when they should be pulling together in support of one another.
You can be proactive about choosing your own hand-picked decision-maker by executing a durable power of attorney for health care. With this legal device you name someone who will be empowered to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them for yourself.
Once you have executed this document you can sit down with your family as a whole and explain your decision. You can communicate the fact that the agent that you have chosen is familiar with your thinking. The entire family will know that this is your decision, and it is likely that they will honor it and support the agent that you have selected.
Advance Directives for Health Care
A durable power of attorney for health care (sometimes called a health care proxy) is one of the advance directives for health care that are recommended by estate planning attorneys. Another one is the living will.
A living will is used to state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures like artificial respiration and nutrition.
Doctors can sometimes keep people alive indefinitely through the utilization of artificial means. If there was no hope of recovery, would you want to be kept alive, or would you want nature to take its course? You answer this question when you include a living will in your incapacity plan.
You may wonder why you would need a durable power of attorney for health care if you have a living will. The reason why is because you may not specifically address every possible situation within your living will. The living will is largely centered on the use of life-support.
Other types of decisions may become necessary. The durable power of attorney for health care will designate a person of your choosing to make these decisions on your behalf. When you have both documents in place you are leaving nothing to chance.
Parman & Easterday