While your estate plan should certainly plan for the eventual end of your life, a successful estate plan contemplates numerous situations and scenarios in addition to death that requires advance planning. Consequently, a comprehensive estate plan will include several estate planning tools in addition to a basic Last Will and Testament. Among the most popular of these additional tools is an advance directive. The Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft offer several reasons to include an advance directive in your estate plan.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to plan and make your own end-of-life wishes known in case you are unable to communicate those wishes at some later time. State law dictates which type of advance directives are recognized in a particular state. The State of Indiana recognizes the following types of advance directives:
- Appointment of Health-Care Representative and Power of Attorney. This document allows you to name someone as your healthcare representative who will be able to make decisions about your medical care — including decisions about life support — if you can no longer speak for yourself. This document is especially useful because it allows you to appoint someone to speak for you any time you are unable to make your own medical decisions, not only at the end of life. If you have it witnessed by a notary, Part One also empowers your health-care representative as your attorney-in-fact to make other advance planning decisions, such as those regarding organ donation and final disposition of your body. Your appointment of health-care representation and power of attorney becomes effective when your doctor determines that you are no longer able to make or communicate decisions about your health care.
- Indiana Declaration (Indiana’s version of a living Will). This document lets you state your wishes regarding life prolonging procedures in the event you develop a terminal condition and can no longer make your own decisions. The Declaration allows you to choose between Indiana’s Living Will Declaration, which allows you to state your preference for the withdrawal or withholding of life-prolonging procedures, and Indiana’s Life-Prolonging Procedures Declaration, which allows you to state your preference for receiving life-prolonging procedures if you are terminally ill.
Why Is Having an Advance Directive Important?
In your everyday life, you make hundreds, maybe thousands, of decisions a day. Most of those decisions are small, seemingly inconsequential, decisions; however, they are made by you. At the end of your life though, you may not be capable of making some of the most important decisions regarding your own healthcare. Without an advance directive in place, someone not of your choosing could end up making those critical health care decisions for you if a judge is required to appoint someone as your Agent. Moreover, if more than one person petitions the court to be your Agent, your loved ones could wind up in a costly and divisive court battle over the right to make health care decisions for you. Furthermore, you may have strong beliefs about receiving, or refusing, life-sustaining medical care at the end of your life. If so, the only way to guarantee that those beliefs are honored is through an advance directive. Keep in mind that loved ones may not agree with your wishes, particularly if you do not want life-sustaining treatment. Your loved ones may be incapable of making the decision to refuse life-sustaining measures because they don’t want to let you go. The best way to avoid putting them in such a difficult position is to take the decision-making authority away from them through the execution of an advance directive now.
Contact Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding estate planning, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.