Think you do not have anything to leave behind? Think Again! (Part 4 of 4) – Living Will and Advance Directive

You have now prepared your Last Will and Testament and have named your Attorney-In-Fact in your Power of Attorney, but what about your health? Who will take care of you and your medical needs if you become incapacitated? That is precisely what a Living Will and Advance Directive will provide.

A Living Will and Advance Directive is a document that provides instructions regarding your care during the latter stages of your life. Similar to a Power of Attorney, you will select an individual to serve as your Attorney-In-Fact in this regard. There is also an important decision you must make within the document, and that is the decision regarding whether you would like to continue life sustaining treatment (life support) should the moment arise when doctors have determined there is no more hope for recovery. If that moment should arise, you will not be able to communicate with doctors what you would like done with regard to life support. However, if you have a Living Will and Advance Directive, doctors will be able to clearly see your decision that was made when you were mentally competent and abide by your choice.

A Living Will and Advance Directive also has other benefits. In addition to allowing you to make your own decisions regarding life support, it also will clearly show your intentions and prevent any arguing or disagreements about what you would want should that moment arise. This takes the difficult decision of cutting life support out of the hands of loved ones who may not be in the best mental or emotional state to make that decision. Further, loved ones may disagree and what they believe should happen, potentially leading to arguments and hurting family relations.

Finally, a Living Will and Advance Directive can also include a Healthcare Power of Attorney, which, as mentioned, will give your Attorney-In-Fact authority to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to make your own medical decisions. It also allows your Attorney-In-Fact to speak for you in regards to health care matters. It goes without saying that your Attorney-In-Fact should be someone who you not only trust with your healthcare needs, but also someone who has the emotional and mental ability to make potentially difficult decisions that are ultimately in your best interest. For that reason, it may be appropriate to appoint a trusted person outside of your family to be your Attorney-In-Fact.

The Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and Living Will and Advance Directive are three vital documents that should be a part of everyone’s estate plan. If you do not have either or any of these documents, it is prudent to consider having them created. Being proactive now when it comes to not only your future, but also your loved ones future can help prevent many headaches down the road.


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