The COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every facet of our lives. It has impacted the way we do business, the way we have fun, and the way we communicate. It has changed our approach to entertainment, religious observance, and more. And of course, it has also prompted many of us to think more seriously than ever before about issues of mortality.
Indeed, if there is any one takeaway from COVID-19, perhaps it’s that we are all more vulnerable than we think. The outbreak of a deadly virus reminds us that life is finite and that none of us can ever know for sure what tomorrow will bring.
That’s obviously a frightening thought. And yet, there are ways to prepare, and to put at least some safeguards in place against the unpredictability of the world. The estate planning process, and especially an advance health care directive, can help.
Insights from an Advance Health Directive Attorney
As you think about your own mortality, and about some of the challenging questions raised by coronavirus, here are a few insights from an advance directive attorney.
- It’s often assumed that estate planning revolves around questions of who gets what. Actually, a big part of estate planning is preparing for the possibility that you could be medically incapacitated, unable to articulate your own medical wishes.
- Even beyond coronavirus, there are plenty of situations in which you could be unable to speak for yourself or to make your own health care decisions. It’s morbid to think about, but the reality is that a sudden illness or accident could put you in a coma and prohibit you from communicating.
- An advance health directive attorney can help you think about this possibility, and make the appropriate plans. Specifically, an advance health care directive (or medical power of attorney) can help you ensure that your wishes are carried out, even if you are unable to speak for yourself.
- In an advance health care directive, you can outline your specific end-of-life wishes, including key points about if and when you wish to remain on breathing machines, feeding tubes, etc.
- Meanwhile, a power of attorney allows you to appoint a legal representative who can make health care decisions on your behalf.
- A directive or power of attorney provides you peace of mind, letting you know for sure that your wishes will be upheld no matter what. And, these documents also provide peace and assurance to your family members, who will be glad to have clarity about what you want, rather than having to venture a guess.
- You might also talk with your advance directive attorney about a financial power of attorney, which allows you to appoint a legal representative to make business or legal decisions for you, should you become incapacitated.
- An advance directive or power of attorney only goes into effect if you are medically unable to communicate for yourself. If you regain the ability to communicate, the powers rendered by these documents are nullified.
These are just a few key facts to keep in mind with regard to advance health care directives and powers of attorney.
Talk to a Lawyer About Health Care Directives
Many of us are feeling fragile and uncertain. That’s perfectly normal. But please know that there are some estate planning steps you can take that might offer some peace of mind. In particular, you can consider an advance health care directive.
Our attorneys are here to talk about this or any other estate planning matters as needed. To speak with us, reach out and make an appointment at any time.