If you think, the only reason to have an estate plan is so that your heirs can inherit your assets— think again. Estate planning includes preparing for medical emergencies, as discussed in a recent article appearing in twincities.com, “Your Money: Medical power of attorney: the missing piece of too many estate plans.”
Preparing for medical emergencies means determining the person who will look out for your best interests, if you are unable to advocate for yourself. In short, it involves naming someone you trust as your healthcare proxy.
A living will, or advanced care directive, are important documents in your estate plan. However, you will also need a health care proxy to help ensure that you are getting the kind of care you would want in the event that you are unable to communicate for yourself. A health care proxy is a document that designates the individual(s) you would want to make these health care decisions in your stead. The designated person is your health care agent or representative.
Unlike an advanced care directive or living will, your health care agent can make decisions for you when your incapacitation isn’t life threatening.
If you don’t have a valid power of attorney designating your official health care agent, then most likely either your spouse, an adult child, or a parent will be asked to make medical decisions on your behalf. This depends on the state you live in and your circumstances. Note, however, some states and medical institutions will not allow someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf unless you have a health care proxy.
Appointing a health care agent is the only way to be certain the person you feel most comfortable with is in charge in case of an emergency.
When you choose your representative, make sure he or she is willing to take on that responsibility. You should also name an alternate representative, if your primary person is unavailable. Be certain that he or she is comfortable in abiding by your wishes and relaying that information to your doctor.
An estate planning attorney will be able to create the forms that are required by your state, but make sure to have them completed. This means having them notarized or witnessed. Do not leave out the last step!
At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we prepare health care proxies as part of a comprehensive estate planning package for all of our clients. Additionally, we strongly encourage our clients to hold family meetings in order to discuss their wishes, because the better your loved ones understand your estate plan, the better the chances the plan will work the way you intend.
If you are interested in creating an estate plan, please visit our website to contact us today.
Reference: twincities.com (December 16, 2017) “Your Money: Medical power of attorney: the missing piece of too many estate plans”