You could make a living will as part of your estate plan. This is a type of advance directive. It can be used to spell out your medical wishes so that future doctors can see what you want if you become incapacitated and you can’t make those wishes known on your own.
For instance, perhaps you’re making an estate plan while thinking about your family’s financial future. You know that being kept on life support could be very expensive and so it’s something that you’d rather avoid. You can use a living will specifying that you do not want to be kept on life support and or that you don’t even want to be resuscitated if you pass away. If there are any types of treatment that you specifically want or do not want, you can include this in the living will.
A power of attorney goes further
This can certainly be helpful, but a living will only address things that you thought of in advance and decided to include. The example above about life support is a common one because people often think about what would happen if they had a heart attack or a stroke.
But the power of attorney is different because it allows you to choose an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. You never know exactly what a medical scare is going to look like or what types of symptoms you’re going to have. You don’t necessarily know what the prognosis will look like or the odds of a recovery. Rather than simply deciding in advance that you do or do not want a certain treatment, you can use a power of attorney to appoint an agent you trust to make the best decision on your behalf.
Setting up your plan
No matter which document you decide to use, it’s important to carefully consider all of your legal options and set this plan up well in advance. This way, you and your family know that it will be there if you need it.