Many people wonder if they should include instructions in their Will to let loved ones know what kind of medical care they’d like if they’re in the final stages of a terminal illness.
But your Will is not the place for this type of information. In fact, in many cases, your family doesn’t even find your Will until sometime after your death.
What’s more, your Will, by definition, does not take effect until you die – so it’s powerless to make sure that your health care wishes are followed.
The best place to express these wishes is through documents known as Advanced Health Care Directives.
The first, a Living Will, allows you to specify in writing exactly what kind of medical treatment you want – or don’t want – if you are incapacitated. The instructions people leave in advanced medical directives can range from general preferences, such as no artificial life saving measures to the very specific, such as a list of the types of medications they do and don’t want administered.
If you want to go a step further and appoint someone to act on your behalf to make medical decisions for you when you’re no longer able, then you’ll also need a Health Care Power of Attorney.
This document gives someone of your choosing the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf, in the event that the treatments you need are not specifically covered in your Living Will.
And lastly, to ensure that your financial responsibilities are tended to, you can include a Durable Power of Attorney which would give someone of your choosing the ability to make financial decisions and complete financial transactions on your behalf while you’re incapacitated.
Having these documents as part of your estate plan can ensure that you and your assets are protected, no matter what the future might hold.