Start planning advance directives early

Jun 03, 2021

Getting older is not always easy. Though some people may stay in seemingly prime health until their final days, others may struggle with various medical concerns that can leave them needing daily care. Often, these medical conditions can affect a person’s ability to make sound decisions, and as a result, someone else may need to step in to make those decisions.

If you are getting older, you may still feel in relatively good health. However, it is crucial to remember that health concerns can crop up unexpectedly and that serious injury-causing accidents can happen at any time. It pays to prepare for the unexpected to avoid leaving loved ones in a difficult spot and to ensure that your healthcare needs do not face any unnecessary delays.

How can you plan?

Fortunately, you have various options for planning for possible medical scenarios. As part of your estate plan, you could include advance directives that act as legally binding instructions for your loved ones and medical professionals to follow in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. Some examples of these directives include:

  • A healthcare power of attorney: This document allows you to appoint a trusted person as your power of attorney agent in relation to your healthcare matters. This means that the person can make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.
  • Living will: A living will is also known as an advance medical directive, and it essentially leaves instructions for how medical staff and your loved ones should handle certain medical situations, including whether to take life-saving measures if you face a terminal situation or whether doctors should attempt resuscitation if you stop breathing on your own.

Deciding who should act as your agent and deciding what healthcare measures you feel comfortable with in a given situation are not simple tasks. It can take time and much personal introspection to determine what the best choices are for your personal situation.

Because it takes time, starting the planning process early is wise. You can begin thinking about your wishes, take steps to discuss those wishes with your loved ones if desired and move forward with creating the formal documents needed to ensure your wishes are legally valid. You may also want to remember that you can change and update these documents if you change your mind later.

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