Estate planning is a difficult exercise for most people. It means facing your mortality, making difficult decisions about care in your final days, and dividing your property after your death. A full estate plan takes all of this into consideration, but also incorporates items that only matter while you are living.
One such item, a health care directive, becomes imperative if your doctor determines you cannot make your own care decisions or if you become incapacitated. This post explains the many aspects of a health care directive.
What Is a Health Care Directive?
A health care directive—called an “advance directive” in some states—lets you:
- Provide binding instructions to others about your care
- Appoint another person to make your health care decisions for you
- Change or revoke your decisions as long as you have the legal capacity to do so
While most of us do not wish to face our mortality, accidents can happen at any time and age. It’s always best to have your wishes documented in a proper legal document that relatives or court-appointed strangers can follow to make end-of-life or treatment decisions for you if you cannot do so.
Your Living Will
Most people use the term “living will” interchangeably with “health care directive.” In reality, a living will is actually one part of your health care directive. This is the section of your health care directive the states your preferred wishes about your health care in the future, should you not be able to make a decision or voice your preferences at that later time.
Your Health Care Agent
Who you select as your agent is crucial to ensuring your wishes will be carried out. Your agent must be at least 18 years old and someone you trust. This person should be willing to carry out your wishes about medical care, treatment, death and dying. It is important your agent is an advocate for you and can stand up to family members or friends who may disagree with your choices.
You Should Have a Health Care Directive, No Matter Your Age
If you live in Minnesota and do not yet have a health care directive, contact White & Associates to talk about how to put your care wishes into a legally-enforceable document in the unfortunate event of an accident or illness.
We understand how difficult these conversations can be, as well as how important they are. We are here to help.