Despite the planning individuals typically invest in events like attending college, getting married and welcoming a child into the world, the unexpected often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Age has little to do with designating health care wishes. Not knowing when you might become unable to communicate about the treatment you want, however, makes uncomfortable decisions necessary.
Three considerations for the future
If you believe estate planning is simply the designation of your assets, it’s important to note there are probably additional questions you must answer about your future. For example:
- Who will raise your children if parenting becomes impossible for you?
- Who do you want in charge of your estate?
- What decisions should be left to your family members?
Taking care of loved ones is inherent in an estate plan. Regardless of your age or current physical and mental capabilities, you can save others from guilt and doubt by specifying your preferred medical care before the most challenging medical choices become necessary.
What choices can I make?
You can determine a treatment plan based on your quality of life. Do you want Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops? Would you undergo a surgical procedure that could positively affect a new condition but not cure an underlying illness? How do you feel about being on artificial life support?
Who will act on my behalf?
You can specify a Health Care Agent to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Family or otherwise, your designated agent should be a trustworthy individual who understands your beliefs and is willing to support your wishes.
Is this a legal document?
Provide your physician with a current witnessed version of your signed directive. In so doing, they must adhere to certain legal standards of medical care in accordance with your wishes.