One of the inevitable realities of getting older is that, eventually, you may not be able to make decisions on your own behalf anymore. When that happens, the plans you have in place will determine how well you can ensure you are taken care of in your later years. It is for this reason that you should strongly consider preparing advance directives as soon as possible. Advance Directives will ensure your interests are protected when you can no longer take care of your own needs.
Advance directives refer to certain legal arrangements that you can make that will determine how your affairs are handled if you become incapacitated, or otherwise unable to take care of your own affairs. There are three primary forms of advance directives that you should be concerned about:
- Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is an arrangement where another person you trust is given the authority to handle legal and financial matters on your behalf, including managing your investments and paying your bills. A power of attorney can be general in scope and duration, or it can be limited to specific circumstances or subjects, depending on your needs.
- Healthcare Proxy: A healthcare proxy is like a power of attorney, except it gives another person the power to make healthcare decisions for you, rather than legal or financial decisions. A healthcare proxy can give informed consent on medical procedures on your behalf, up to and including the decision to resuscitate you if your heart or breathing stops.
- Living Will: A living will is a document that lays out your wishes for your medical treatment if you should become incapacitated. Rather than placing the decision-making authority in the hands of another person, it sets out the kinds of medical procedures you consent to, and which you do not. One of the most common clauses in a living will is a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, also known as a DNR, which prevents a medical doctor from reviving you if you stop breathing or your heart stops.
In particular, it is important to consider what advance directives you may require, because if you are incapacitated without a power of attorney or healthcare proxy, you may find yourself placed in the care of a court-appointed guardian. While this might be someone you trust, it could very well be someone you do not like, or even a stranger. Preparing ahead and getting your advance directives in order is the best way to avoid this unfortunate outcome.
If you or a loved one are dealing with legal issues related to advance directives, or you are dealing with any other issue related to elder law, you’ll need specialized legal advice. The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are skilled in all aspects of elder law, and are dedicated to representing clients with diligence and compassion. To speak to an attorney or to schedule a consultation, call 866-825-1LAW.