McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

How can you ensure that your health care wishes are followed?

If an unexpected accident or illness leads to incapacitation, it is important that your health care wishes are known to ensure that your care is carried out as desired. We all hope to be mentally and physically fit throughout life. Unfortunately, none of us knows what the future holds.

While you may consider explaining your health care wishes to a trusted friend or family member, there are more secure, legally-binding options to explore. Do you understand how a living will or health care power of attorney can protect your best interests?

What are they?

Both a living will and a health care power of attorney protect your care wishes in the event of physical or mental incapacitation.

  • A living will: allows you to detail your care and end-of-life preferences for medical professionals and family members. You can thoroughly create different plans of action depending upon the circumstances you foresee coming to light. A living will leaves written documentation of your care decisions and philosophies that others must abide by.
  • A healthcare power of attorney: allows you to designate an agent who serves as a trusted health care advocate. They are bound to act in your best interests and can decide on treatments, medications and other major medical decisions on your behalf. Unlike a living will, they can adjust their decisions to the exact situation at hand, while firmly remaining within the bounds of your desired care philosophy or religious beliefs.

You can establish either of these estate planning tools in isolation, or establish both to secure your health care wishes.

What are the benefits?

Both options provide peace of mind that your wishes are known and will be carried out. They can prevent family disagreements; how to address medical problems is a common point of contention among family members. Clearly establishing a plan removes uncertainty and anxiety for your family who are trying to determine how to best suit your needs in times of trouble.

If you are unsure which option is right for you, you can discuss your needs with an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you through the process.

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