Estate planning is considered by many to be a purely financial exercise. Without question, you have to decide how you want your assets to be distributed after you are gone and state your wishes in a legally binding manner. However, a well-constructed estate plan will include another component.
Sadly, many people become unable to communicate at the end of their lives. Decisions may present themselves, and it is wise to anticipate all possibilities in a proactive manner. This is partially done through the execution of legal devices called advance directives for health care.
Everyone has heard of the last will, which is often used to direct asset transfers, but it is not the only type of will that is utilized in the field of estate planning. A living will is an advance directive for health care, and it has nothing to do with monetary matters.
The medical community can sometimes keep people alive for extended periods of time, even if there is no hope of recovery. They utilize life-sustaining measures like artificial hydration and nutrition, resuscitation, and artificial respiration. You can express your preferences with regard to the use of these methods in your living will.
In addition to the specific matter of life-support, there are some other pieces of information that you can share in the document. If you would like to donate organs or tissue, you can state your choices, and you can record your comfort care preferences if you choose to do so.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
There are some health care matters that could arise that are not directly addressed in the living will. To account for this, you can empower a representative to make medical decisions on your behalf through the execution of a durable power of attorney for health care. These documents are sometimes called health care proxies.
Obviously, your agent would not be able to make informed decisions without access to your medical information. Because of stipulations contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability and Act (HIPAA), doctors not allowed to release this data to anyone other than the patient.
However, you can choose to execute a HIPAA authorization form when you are devising your incapacity plan. This would give your agent, and anyone else that you choose, the right to gain access to relevant health care information.
Download Our Estate Planning Worksheet
We have covered one small portion of the estate planning/elder law equation in this brief post, and many other topics are covered on the blog. Plus, it is updated with fresh content on an ongoing basis, so you can visit us periodically to build on your knowledge.
In addition to the blog, there are other written resources that you can access on our site free of charge. One of them is our estate planning worksheet, and you can walk away with a much more comprehensive understanding of the process if you go through it.
This worksheet is being offered free of charge right now, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. To get your copy, visit our worksheet access page and follow the simple instructions.
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If you are going through life without an estate plan, action is required. We know that it can be a bit disconcerting to discuss personal matters with someone that you have just met, but you can set those concerns aside. Our clients consistently tell us that we have the uncanny ability to make people feel at ease from the start.
There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all estate plan. Each case is different, so personalized attention is key. This is exactly what you will get when you engage our services.
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