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The Planning Stage of Advanced Care

The Planning Stage of Advanced Care

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Estate planning accomplishes several objectives, including the deferral or reduction in estate taxes, avoiding probate, and ensuring that the defendant’s assets pass on to heirs of his or her choosing. What happens to that person medically is another aspect of estate planning, and these details can be contained in an advance care directive.

This part of estate planning is a legal document that is created while the person is still mentally and emotionally capable. It indicates their decisions, values, and end-of-life care in case they become incapacitated for any reason, such as being involved in an accident, disease or other traumatic event at some point in the future.

Making Their Decisions Known

An advance care directive typically has at least two components to it: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.

  • Living will: With the help of a will attorney, this written document specifies how a person wants to be treated medically if they are dying or incapacitated in such a way that they cannot indicate their wishes at that time. A person can indicate the type of procedures or treatments they want to be involved in their care, the ones they do not want, and the conditions that affect the application of those treatments.
  • Durable power of attorney for health care: This legal document allows a person to name their healthcare proxy, which is someone who will make medical decisions for them should be unable to do so themselves. This proxy should be exceptionally familiar with the person’s values and decisions, and be able to follow through with them. A healthcare proxy can be selected in addition to or instead of having a living will. One difference is that a healthcare proxy will help navigate those situations, such as a debilitating accident, that cannot be predicted.

There are other legal documents that can supplement an advance care plan. These can include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, details about organ donation, or decisions about blood transfusions. Choose the documents to create depending on how the decisions should be made.

Changing an Advance Care Directive

Keep in mind that an advance care directive is a living, fluid document. This means that, with the guidance of a will attorney to ensure its validity, a person can change its contents, specify a new healthcare proxy, or update their decisions at any time for any reason.

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