March 20, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- The power of a living will: The importance of planning for incapacity
Article provided by Susana Lannik
Visit us at http://www.lanniklaw.com/
The best defense is a good offense. This saying can apply to many situations throughout life, including planning for unforeseen medical emergencies.
Medical emergencies can happen to anyone. A young adult could get into a horrific traffic accident and not be able to communicate their wishes; an elderly person could suffer from dementia. Whatever the cause, taking the time to complete this portion of estate planning by setting up instructions on the how medical care and finances should be handled can not only ease your mind but also provide guidance to loved ones during a very difficult time.
Documents that can provide guidance if incapacitated
There are many different ways to provide guidance to loved ones in the event that one is incapacitated. The three most common documents that are often recommended are:
-Health care power of attorney
-Letter of instruction
A living will is a document that provides guidance medical professionals, family members and loved ones regarding medical treatment options. Many mistakenly believe that this document only outlines treatments that should be avoided. It is important to be aware that the living will can also serve to guide medical professionals and loved ones as to which medical treatments a person wants to receive. For example, the living will could outline that an individual wishes that all available treatment options should be pursued or discuss specific medical techniques that are preferred.
The document can also serve to provide guidance on any treatments that are to be avoided. This could include a do not resuscitate or wish to avoid use of a feeding tube.
Some avoid using a living will out of fear that it will automatically be enacted once signed. It is important to note that if hospitalized and coherent enough to make medical decisions, the living will is not used. The document only becomes active when the person is unable to make decisions.
The second document, the health care power of attorney, appoints an individual to make health care decisions that may not be covered in the living will. This person could be a spouse or other loved one and may also be called a health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health care.
The third document, a letter of instruction, is designed to outline specific requests like funeral preferences as well as a list of important contacts. Contacts to include are insurance agents and employers. It is not a legal document, and serves more to guide family members and loved ones in the event of one's passing as opposed to providing the legal directions included within a will.
Putting together these documents can be intimidating. Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer to discuss these and other documents that will help ensure your wishes are met and your assets are protected.---
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