Having your affairs in order before you die is a way to protect your family and heirs. A complete estate plan, however, should also contain tools that keep you safe as well if you become disabled or incapacitated.
Comprehensive planning includes more than a will. The documents in your estate plan may provide protection and care for you when you are at your most vulnerable. An advance directive is one element you want to include in such a plan.
What is a durable medical power of attorney?
A durable medical power of attorney allows a person of your choosing to handle medical decisions when you cannot. Perhaps an illness or accident leaves you unconscious or in a poor mental state. If you cannot make your own decisions, the doctors need someone to approve a course of care. A medical power of attorney ensures that someone of your choosing is the one who directs your medical care.
What does a living will do?
Should you face an illness or injury that leaves you incapacitated and needing emergency or life-sustaining care, an advance directive (also known as a living will) can help. Your family may want to take steps to continue your care, even if you may not. A living will allows you to direct certain medical decisions, even when you cannot speak, such as:
- Whether you want doctors to use life support if your condition may not improve
- The level of palliative care you want
- If you want hydration and food via tubes
You can take steps to help yourself should you need it at any point. Advance directives are documents that can allow you to express your wishes for your care and to name who will carry those wishes out.