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What Healthcare Documents Are Needed for Estate Planning?

January 1, 2021

Healthcare documents allow you to exercise control over your healthcare and end-of-life decisions.

What happens if I don’t have healthcare documents in place?

Without proper documents in place, if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, your care will be left to the discretion of the doctor treating you. When a question arises about whether to undertake a serious procedure or lifesaving technique, the doctor may or may or may not consult with your loved ones. If the doctor does seek the guidance of your loved ones, your family members may disagree about the best course of action. In extreme cases, these disagreements can end up in probate court where a judge will make the final decision regarding your care. This can be extremely stressful, expensive and painful for all involved.

What is a durable power of attorney for healthcare?

A durable power of attorney for healthcare, also known as a healthcare proxy, gives another person the authority to make healthcare decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. The person you name as your healthcare agent should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes, such as a spouse, close relative or friend. The agent you select will likely have to deal with family members, doctors and others who are motivated by their own beliefs and interests, so it’s important to choose an agent who will stand up for your wishes. It’s also important to communicate these wishes to your agent (and family) prior to an unexpected event.

What is a living will?

A living will, also known as a declaration, a directive to physicians or a healthcare directive, clarifies your wishes as to which procedures you would like provided or withheld in the event you are unable to communicate a decision yourself. When a doctor receives a living will, he or she must either follow its instructions or transfer your care to another doctor who will. Unlike a healthcare power of attorney, which gives someone else the power to make decisions for you, a living will allows you to dictate your own wishes in advance.

If you have any additional questions about healthcare documents for estate planning, schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation and learn more about how Creative Planning can help you.

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.


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