Many individuals fail to realize the urgency of preparing their wills and estate plans swiftly, regardless of age. As a result, many die without a proper plan in place, which carries many ramifications and can complicate the probate process.
Even those who do have a will made may forget a very important aspect: What happens if they do not die but are still unable to express what they want? Certain documents can help ensure the carrying out of their healthcare wishes if they are ever incapable of doing so due to their physical or mental states.
Power of attorney
This document grants a trusted individual the right to make decisions on a person’s behalf. Power of attorney can be more general, covering many areas, or more specialized, only encompassing one aspect like finances. A durable medical power of attorney gives a person the power to make medical decisions about healthcare, which may include surgery, medication and end-of-life care.
Also known as a living will, this is a document where an individual can outline directions for medical care and assign a representative to make decisions for him or her. Examples of what a person may cover in an advance directive include:
- A do not resuscitate order
- Permission (or denial of it) to harvest organs or tissue
- Instructions regarding feeding tubes, life support or other life-saving measures
It is important for individuals to assign a person to make decisions for them in case of incapacitation or incompetency, either through a power of attorney or in an advance directive. Doing so, along with specifying their healthcare wishes, helps to make sure that even when they cannot oversee it themselves, their healthcare is as they want it.