Planning for your future healthcare needs might be a hard thing to think about, but it’s is an important part of caring for yourself and your family. An advanced healthcare directive-–including a living will and a durable power of attorney–-should be a part of your estate plan to specify your wishes.
These documents outline your medical and healthcare instructions in the event that you were no longer able to speak for yourself and designates someone to do so. Being specific with your intentions and appointing someone to speak on your behalf now will ensure that those treating you know your preferences before it’s too late.
You may have heard about having a will in place upon your death, but a living will is different. A living will refers to the medical and healthcare wishes of a person should that person become incapacitated. It gives clear instructions and details about an individual’s medical preferences; for example, whether or not they wish to remain in a coma if that were to be the case.
For a living will to be valid, it needs to be:
- Created by an individual over 18 of sound mind
- Signed by the individual
- Witnessed by two people
Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) names someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so and is written before it may be needed so it’s available at the time of a health crisis. The word “durable” means that it becomes valid at the time the person becomes incapacitated. When choosing your DPOA, you’ll want someone who is trustworthy and available to assist you as this person will speak for you as your agent.
Preparing these documents can offer you peace of mind in declaring your choices for future needs. Casually expressing your wishes to family members in conversation may not provide for your care exactly as you desire. An advanced healthcare directive that includes a living will and a durable power of attorney allows you to give clear instructions to ensure your wishes are honored.