We all know the importance of planning for a time when we’re no longer here, but about planning for a time when we’re unable to speak on our own behalf?
It’s a scary notion to be sure, but about 60% of Americans will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime. For many, this will be due to mental disability or other forms of incapacitation.
And if you’re not competent, you won’t be able to voice your wishes about medical treatments, end-of-life measures or even your personal financial affairs.
Fortunately, part of estate planning includes creating documents known as Advanced Directives. These documents give you a way to state your wishes now so that there’s no question later.
A Living Will for example, allows you to dictate what medical treatments you want or don’t want as well as your feelings on certain life support measures such as feeding tubes and respirators. This tells your healthcare providers how to treat you in the event that you can’t approve or decline certain medical treatments in the future.
The next document in the Advanced Directive collection is known as a Health Care Proxy. In the event that your Living Will does not address your specific situation, the Health Care Proxy grants authority to someone of your choosing to speak on your behalf and make those medical decisions for you.
You’ll also want to have a Durable Power of Attorney which grants similar authority but with respect to your financial affairs. This gives someone you trust the power to pay your bills, access your checking account and take care of all your financial needs.
These documents are legal and binding so in the event you become incapacitated, you and your wishes will be well-protected.