Accidents happen every day, we never know when something terrible will happen. A car accident or a bad fall can put us in a condition where we can’t make decisions for ourselves. In preparation for these situations, we want to have documents and instructions for our preferences. These are preferences for our medical treatment and how to use our property and finances in the meantime. Documents like these are called advanced directives, and we should all have one in place.
An advanced directive is a legal document that states your intended wishes for medical care and finances should you become incapacitated. There are several things that an advanced directive can and should dictate so that when you can’t make your own decisions, your loved ones and medical caretakers can make decisions that best suit your desires. To make sure you cover everything you need to, contact the estate planning attorneys at Tressler & Associates. We’ll help you create your advanced directive.
Advanced directives are made up of three parts that cover everything you can decide for yourself in a document. These three parts–the living will, and the two aspects of your Durable Power of Attorney–cover the healthcare and financial aspects of your life.
You’re considered unable to make decisions for yourself when you’re in a comatose or vegetative state. This also means if you are unable to move or communicate as effectively as you should, your advanced directive will not necessarily come into effect.
For example, someone who is paralyzed, but is completely cognizant of their surroundings won’t use an advanced directive. They can still make decisions, albeit slowly, either through blinking or some other purposeful movement. This is because they can state their preferences without a document.
A living will is the portion of the document that details what types of medical treatments you want. You can be as specific as you want, though if it is not within your healthcare provider’s abilities or your insurance coverage, you may not be given it. It also details any emergency care outside of the daily treatment you may or may not want to be performed on you.
The living will portion of advanced directives can also detail your feelings on resuscitation. Resuscitation includes CPR or defibrillators. If you do not want to be resuscitated after you stop breathing and/or your heart stops, you can say. You can also specify if you want to be revived if you are outside or inside a hospital. This could mean the difference between reviving you so you can survive to get medical care, and reviving you after medical care has struggled to treat you.
A living will can detail palliative care. This is whether or not you want to be put on medications to relieve pain or nausea. This can prolong your life, which may not be your preference.
Organ donation is also something you can specify. While in most states, your driver’s license will say if you want to donate organs upon death, if you change your mind and haven’t updated your license, your advanced directive supersedes it. If you update your license to conflict with your advanced directive, the directive may supersede the license. Recency bias can play a factor.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is the ability to make legal decisions on your behalf. Advanced directives can detail who you want to give DPOA to, but if your DPOA refuses, becomes incapacitated, is dead, or is found to be untrustworthy, a court can assign a new DPOA. It’s best to give multiple options.
There are two aspects of your life that require a DPOA: your health and your finances/estates. Your DPOA can be for both aspects, or you can assign a different DPOA for your health and finances.
Your Health Durable Power of Attorney (HDPOA) or Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) can make medical decisions for you as your proxy. They are supposed to adhere to your advanced directive unless there is an extenuating circumstance the directive did not account for. This should be someone you trust to make your decisions, not simply someone who cares about you. Your MPOA can supersede a spouse if the MPOA is not your spouse.
Your financial DPOA will handle matters of your estate. They will pay bills or sell off belongings and property. Your finances do not have to be used towards your recovery if you don’t want to, but if you have debts–medical or otherwise–the government can force your finances and belongings to pay for them. It’s usually recommended that your MPOA and financial DPOA be the same or be two people who can work together.
Preparing for the worst possible situation can be daunting. Having an estate planning attorney at your side to help you work through what you want for your health and your property can alleviate the stress. We can also make sure that your instructions are clear and will be followed as closely as possible.
Your health and future are not something to take risks with. Contact the estate planning attorneys at Tressler & Associates today for help.
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