Estate planning is largely about taking care of your family when you pass, but it’s not the only aim. You’ll also need to look out for yourself in case of hard times, but it can be hard when you don’t have the proper medical planning in place.
An analysis by Health Affairs revealed that a mere 37% of people have rounded out their estate planning with any kind of advanced directive. Of those that answered to the affirmative, just 33% specified they have a health care proxy, and 29% singled out a living will. While something is better than nothing, you’d be better off having both complementary pieces.
A living will sets out guidelines for the treatment when you can no longer express your opinions. Doctors will usually need to confirm that you are indeed incapacitated, and at that time, your written wishes will determine what kind of care you’ll receive. You can lay out a wide range of allowances for physicians to abide by:
- Life-sustaining efforts life CPR
- Medications to ease any pain
- Mechanical assistance eating
A healthcare proxy, sometimes known as a durable medical power of attorney, is a designation of power to someone you trust to carry out the wises in your living will. A standard power of attorney may lose authority as soon as you become incapacitated, so the durable variety is crucial in making sure you have someone working in your interest.
This person will be in charge of communicating with doctors to make sure they follow the plans you lay out in your living will, and that any number of attending physicians are on the same page when it comes to your treatment. Proxies are also generally able to hear updates to your condition and any planned routes of care, instead of patient privacy rules barring their way.
A living will and a healthcare proxy are two pieces that work in tandem to provide you the best care in accordance with your wishes. These two components can then tie into the comprehensive picture of estate planning to make sure everything goes according to plan well before any probate administrators can step in to take the reins.