Don’t Wait to Make Healthcare Decisions: Here Are Two Estate Planning Documents That Can Help
Updated: Jul 8
Many people associate the estate planning process with preparing for anything that could happen when they die. While this is true, a comprehensive plan should also have detailed instructions for what needs to happen if there is ever a time when you are incapacitated and can’t make critical healthcare decisions for yourself. Think about it:
What if you get into a car accident and are rendered unconscious?
What if you get deathly ill and are placed in a medically-induced coma for six months?
What if you suffer a head injury, lose your eyesight, or are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s?
These questions aren’t meant to scare you. But the reality is that life’s what-ifs can take many forms. And as is the case with other aspects of your estate plan, providing your family with a detailed list of healthcare instructions ensures that:
• Someone in your family has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf
• Medical personnel have a detailed set of instructions to provide care in an emergency
• Your family has the means to provide long-term care
• Your family knows your wishes
• You always have someone advocating on your behalf
• You can make these decisions with a clear head and without feeling rushed
Without appropriate planning that includes who will make healthcare decisions for you, there is no guarantee that any of these items above will be made the way you would have wanted or by the person you would choose.
Two Estate Planning Documents That Can Help
1. Living Will or Advance Healthcare Directive
While a Will provides a detailed list of instructions and wishes following your death, a living will (also known as advanced healthcare directives) instructs medical personnel on exactly what you want (your preferences) should you become incapacitated. It also names the person(s) who will make any additional healthcare decisions.
These decisions for medical personnel can include everything from proceeding with or ending life-sustaining or emergency medical tests, procedures, and surgeries to which medications are used and under which circumstances to end such care. At the end of the day, it’s all about what kind of treatment or long-term care you do or do not want.
• If a stroke leaves you unable to remain alive without machines, would you want to be kept alive?
• If your heart stops, would you want CPR performed?
• If doctors must remove a limb to save your life, do you want them to proceed?
2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is slightly different in that it names someone (a spouse, child, friend, etc.) who will make healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated and can no longer act or make important decisions on your own. By assigning an Attorney-in-Fact, they can make medical decisions or consent to medical treatment — provided that those decisions don’t conflict with your living will.
This can include:
• Medical tests and medication decisions
• Placing you in a nursing home
• Implementing or discontinuing life-sustaining measures
Call Caitlyn Ashley Law today!!
Having a plan for the future is the most important gift you can give yourself and your family. Granted, none of us will ever know for sure what is around every corner in life. And just thinking about the what-ifs — what if I were to die or become incapacitated tomorrow; what if my child with special needs has no one to care for her; what if all my “stuff” isn’t passed onto the right people — can be overwhelming. But having a plan that accounts for your family’s unique circumstances, puts your affairs in order, has concrete solutions to your concerns, lays out your wishes and goals, and protects your family’s future provides peace of mind for the road ahead.
Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, Texas, will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your needs and ensure they are flexible enough to meet your changing needs for years to come.