What You Should Know About the Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Wills
It is easy to think that estate planning primarily addresses how to divide your property and provide for your loved ones in the event of your death. However, a significant portion of the estate planning process can be dedicated to ensuring that you are properly cared for while you are alive. As an experienced estate planning attorney, I am regularly asked about some of the various tools that can be used to specify a person’s wishes regarding medical care and health decisions. There are several options from which to choose, and, in some cases, it may be wise to develop a plan that includes more than one.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
The most comprehensive way to address your health and medical concerns is to appoint a trusted friend or loved one as your power of attorney for health care. When you appoint a power of attorney for health care, that person—known as your agent—is granted the authority to make health care and medical-related decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to make them for yourself. In drafting your power of attorney, you have the ability to decide when and how your agent’s authority will become effective. You will want to discuss the matter at length with your chosen agent so that he or she can understand your wishes and to be sure that he or she will carry them out regardless of personal opinion.
A Living Will
While a power of attorney for health care covers a fairly wide range of health care concerns, a living will is much more focused. Your living will can be used to specify the care you wish to receive if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition and are unable to express your desires at the time. A terminal condition is one that cannot be effectively treated or healed, and that death is imminent. In your living will, you can address which, if any, death-delaying procedures should be utilized to keep you alive, such as blood transfusions, artificial ventilators, dialysis, and others.
Combining the Two
When you appoint a power of attorney for health care, you may not feel that you need a living will as well, especially if you have chosen the right agent. However, what if your agent cannot be reached or is suddenly unwilling to make difficult choices when you need it most. Thus, a living will can provide an extra level of security to ensure that you receive the care you have chosen in advance.
To learn more about making your advance directives work together, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney. Our knowledgeable team can help you draft the appropriate documents that reflect your values and protect your rights, even at a time when you are not able to make decisions for yourself. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule your confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today.