Estate planning is about preparing for all possible contingencies, including those that might be unpleasant to think about. Case in point: What happens if you are one day put into a coma, or otherwise medically incapacitated, unable to speak up for yourself? While nobody likes to entertain this possibility, it’s something that very well could happen. Estate planning helps you be ready for it.
Specifically, an advance health care directive can help you ensure your wishes are fulfilled, even when you cannot physically voice them. In this post, we’ll explain how these directives work, and also point out the importance of hiring a health care directive power of attorney expert.
Preparing for All Scenarios
None of us plan on becoming medically incapacitated, but of course, accidents and illnesses can befall anyone, at any time. If you ever do wind up in a coma or a vegetative state, you won’t be able to speak up about if and when you’d like to be removed from life support systems, what kind of medical interventions you do or don’t want, etc.
An advance health care directive is part of your estate plan, and allows you to express these wishes in a format that is legally binding. If you are ever unable to speak for yourself, your health directive is there to speak for you.
The Benefits of Directive Health Care Documents
In a sense, directive health care documents provide benefits to three distinct parties:
- They have an obvious benefit for you, as they help you to enjoy some peace of mind that your end-of-life desires will be upheld no matter the circumstance.
- They benefit the medical providers who are caring for you, offering them a clear sense of direction as to how you wish to be treated.
- They also benefit your family members, who won’t have to guess or quarrel about your end-of-life wishes. They can derive peace of mind from knowing that you’ve made your intentions clear.
What About a Power of Attorney?
Closely related to the health directive is the power of attorney. In fact, you may wish to have both of these documents in place in your estate plan.
So what is a power of attorney? Basically, this is a document that appoints someone else to act as your representative. This person is legally empowered to make decisions for you should you become medically incapacitated. This legal authority is only effective if you cannot communicate for yourself; if you regain the ability to communicate, the power of attorney goes out of effect again.
You may have a medical power of attorney, bestowing on someone the authority to make health care decisions in your stead. You can also have a financial power of attorney, bestowing on someone the authority to make legal and business decisions for you.
Hiring an Advance Directive Attorney
Estate planning isn’t just about who gets your things when you die. It encompasses a full range of topics related to the uncertain future. Planning for health care contingencies is a big part of that.
Establishing a health care plan can be challenging, and it’s not something where you want to take undue risks. As such, we’d recommend collaborating with an advance directive attorney to make sure you have all the right documentation in place.
Singh Law Firm is a leading estate planning firm in California, and we’d love to work with you on any issues related to advance health directives or powers of attorney. To talk with a lawyer, just contact our office today.