Don’t put off establishing an estate plan until “later.” It’s ideal to handle all your estate planning early to ensure that you have a plan in place. Some of the first documents that you’ll want to draft are a health care directive and durable health care power of attorney. You’ll need to understand what these are and why it’s so critical that you have them in place.
How do health care directives and powers of attorneys differ?
Health care directives are synonymous with living wills. This legal document outlines the steps that you’d want medical practitioners to take if you become incapacitated. This document may outline the extent of the treatments you’d want to receive or not in certain emergent medical situations.
In the case of health care powers of attorney, you can document whom you designate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you suffer some kind of incapacitation and can’t voice your preferences on your own.
What does “durable” before “health care power of attorney” mean?
The use of the word “durable” in this instance refers to this document’s effectiveness beyond your suffering of an incapacitating illness or injury. This modifier ensures that you receive such protections in a situation where you otherwise would not.
Steps you should take before drafting a health care power of attorney or directive
Talk to the person you wish to appoint as your health care power of attorney to ensure that they’re on board in serving as your medical advocate if you’re unable to do so yourself. You should also take time to learn about the pros and cons of making certain choices before documenting them. An attorney can advise you of different matters you may address in your health care directive, so that you don’t leave your wishes to chance.