Estate planning should also consider living will instructions

When drafting estate plans and charitable giving, it’s important that individuals also document their intentions for final care.

An advance directive for medical decisions is an example of a legal document that can memorialize such intentions. The purpose of an advance health care directive is to essentially speak for an individual when he or she is unable to do so because of a serious accident or illness.

Although often used interchangeably, there might be distinctions between the different legal documents governing end-of-life care decisions. For example, an advance directive may refer to a living will, a medical power of attorney, and/or a resuscitation order. A legal will is typically used to list specific medical treatments or measures that an individual might approve or refuse, such as artificial respiration, intravenous feeding, dialysis or other measures. However, it might be difficult to anticipate every possible treatment that may be used after a serious accident or illness. For that reason, a medical or health care power of attorney can designate an individual to make medical decisions on an individual’s behalf in times of incapacitation.

Fortunately, an attorney that focuses on estate planning may also have knowledge of the various documents available for planning for the unexpected in medical care. In fact, an attorney may also have insight regarding how to best prepare for assisted living or long-term care needs before they arise. In addition to living wills and powers of attorney, an attorney can also memorialize the details of how an individual would like his or her ceremony to be administered.

Source: The New York Times, “Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death,” John F. Wasik May 14, 2014


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