Estate planning is inextricably intertwined with the stages of life that will be preceding your passing. For this reason it is best to develop a comprehensive plan for aging that includes retirement planning, incapacity planning, and estate planning. You never know what the future is going to hold, and nobody has a crystal ball. However, what you can do is educate yourself and understand some of the challenges that you may be facing later in your life and plan appropriately for your own well-being as well as that of your family members.
With this in mind elder law attorneys are going to emphasize the importance of the execution of a living will and a durable medical power of attorney. With a living will you express your wishes regarding medical procedures that you would be willing to accept and those that you would prefer to deny should you become unable to communicate your decisions for yourself in real time. The matter of being kept alive via the use of artificial life support techniques is at the root of most living wills. To understand the importance of living wills for people of all ages, simply think back to the case of Terri Schiavo that was so prominently covered in the news a number of years back.
With a durable medical power of attorney you empower a representative of your own choosing to make medical decisions in your behalf should the time come when you cannot make them for yourself. The reason why you would execute this document as well as a living will is because there could be scenarios that arise that were not specifically addressed in the living will.
These documents, called advanced health care directives, should be a part of any holistic plan for the future. If you do not have your advanced directives in place, take action right now and arrange for a consultation with an experienced elder law attorney.
Ryan, Hicks, Cumpton & Cumpton LLP is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.