As you get older, it is necessary to undertake some estate planning responsibilities. When you think of an estate plan, you probably think of a will, trust or beneficiary designations on your life insurance or retirement accounts. However, a crucial aspect of your estate plan you should not overlook is a health care directive.
Putting your medical wishes in writing and appointing a health care proxy is important for your estate plan. Here is an explanation of what you can include in your health care directive and how to choose someone to make medical decisions for you.
What your health care directive covers
You never know when a medical emergency or sudden illness may occur. Thankfully, you can predetermine what happens in this type of situation. With a strong estate plan, you can identify whether you will receive any life-prolonging treatments, including the following:
- Diagnostic tests
- Blood transfusions
- Pain medication
One common provision people include in health care directives is a do-not-resuscitate order. If you do not want end-of-life care, you may want to write this order into your estate plan with the help of a lawyer to ensure it is enforceable.
Choosing a health care proxy
A health care directive and proxy should go hand-in-hand. The best way to make sure doctors follow your medical wishes is by appointing someone to advocate for you when you cannot do so for yourself. You may want to name your spouse, close friend or family member to be your surrogate. Whoever you choose should be assertive and live near you. This person may need to spend a long time advocating for your medical desires if you become incapacitated.
While you may primarily be concerned with your property and money when you create your estate plan, do not forget about the importance of your own health care. Establishing a directive and proxy will be invaluable for your end-of-life treatment.