Estate planning involves establishing a series of legal documents that provide critical protections to you and your family’s future. It is about so much more than distribution of assets to beneficiaries, although that is a large part of it. Estate planning also involves establishing legal protections to ensure you receive the health care treatment you wish even in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes for yourself. This means that even if the unforeseen should happen, such as an accident or sudden illness, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have communicated your wishes in legally binding documents. These documents that express your health care wishes are known as health care directives.
The Importance of Health Care Directives
An advance health care directive is a legally binding document setting forth your health care preferences should you become incapacitated and unable to make or communicate your medical treatment wishes for yourself. These directives protect your wishes should the worst case scenario happen. There are two central health care directives that everyone should have in place. A durable power of attorney for health care is one of them. This names a trusted individual who will act as your health care agent should you become incapacitated. Your agent will be tasked with discussing your treatment with your doctors and other treating medical professionals. Your agent will also be tasked with making treatment decisions on your behalf. Putting a durable power of attorney for health care in place means that you are empowered to select the person who will make critical medical decisions on your behalf when they are needed most.
The other health care document you should have in place is most commonly known as a living will. A living will is your opportunity to detail the types of medical treatment, specifically in end of life situations, that you would want to receive or not receive. A living will can be as detailed or general as possible. Of course, the more detail you include, the more guidance you are giving your health care power of attorney and your treating physicians regarding your treatment wishes. Having a living will can bring great peace of mind knowing that your medical treatment wishes are memorialized in a legally binding document. It can also be a huge help to your family and loved ones. Should you be in a situation where you are unable to communicate your healthcare wishes on your own, your loved ones are not going to be in a position to want to guess what you would have wanted. A living will takes out the need for guesswork. They will know your wishes even when you cannot state them yourself.
Estate Planning Attorneys
In California, your durable power of attorney for health care and your living will are combined into a single form called an advance health care directive. While thinking of circumstances that may merit use of a health care directive are not pleasant, the benefits that come with an advance health care directive means that time is of the essence. Put these important legal protections in place as soon as possible. OC Wills & Trust Attorneys are here to help. Contact us today.