Estate planning is not just about protecting your financial assets and leaving behind your possessions to your heirs. It is also about making important healthcare decisions that may protect you as you age or become ill.
For many people, the prospect of discussing their end-of-life care preferences is not particularly enticing. It is unpleasant to consider one’s own mortality, and uncomfortable to go into detail about specific decisions you would make in particular end-of-life circumstances.
However, having these difficult conversations is a necessary part of thorough estate planning, and the earlier you have these frank conversations with loved ones and your attorney, the better prepared you will be should an emergency scenario arise.
Certain estate planning tasks allow you to make your wishes known to healthcare providers so you receive the care you want and avoid potential confusion among your family members and loved ones.
Through a healthcare power of attorney, also known as a healthcare proxy, you can appoint a trusted relative, friend or advisor to have legal authority to make healthcare-related decisions on your behalf. This person would be the go-to source for doctors and care providers to discuss your treatment options in the event of your incapacitation.
Your exact wishes for your medical treatment can be laid out in a living will. This is where you’ll need to have those difficult conversations. Are there any circumstances in which you do not wish to be resuscitated? Are there certain types of care you wish to refuse?
Your chosen healthcare proxy will follow the wishes you give in your living will. But even then, the decisions they make can take an emotional toll, despite the knowledge that they are carrying out the wishes you provided.
You should make sure to select a person who can handle the emotional strain of serving as a healthcare proxy. It is important to have clear, honest conversations with that person and your other loved ones about your wishes so there are no surprises. Try to minimize the emotional strain associated with these decisions as much as possible.
Finally, it is important to provide access to your medical records with a HIPAA authorization document. Without such a document in place, doctors cannot legally disclose any medical information to your friends or family members.
Discussing Your Medical Preferences
When it comes time for you to discuss your medical wishes with your loved ones, it is advisable to inform them ahead of time that you wish to discuss the topic. That way no one feels blindsided, and you can all prepare for the conversation in a constructive way to get through it in a good frame of mind.
For advice and guidance as you make your own end-of-life healthcare decisions as part of your estate planning, contact an experienced lawyer at Baker Law Group.
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