A comprehensive estate plan should address the latter stages of your life as well as the things that will take place after your passing. With this in mind, you may want to consider creating a durable power of attorney for health care.
What Is It?
A durable power of attorney for health care is a legally binding document. It is also referred to as a health care proxy.
With this legal device you name an agent or proxy to act in your behalf if you become incapacitated. Medical decisions may become necessary, and you may not be physically capable of handling your own affairs. Your proxy would be empowered to make these decisions for you if you could not make them for yourself.
Is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Really Necessary?
You may wonder if the execution of a health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health care is really necessary. Perhaps you are under the impression that it is highly unlikely that you will become incapacitated late in your life.
We can all hope for the best. Indeed, some people are capable of making and communicating sound decisions up until the last moment.
The best way to analyze something like this would be to look at the statistics. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 45 percent of elders who are at least 85 suffer from this disease.
If you have Alzheimer’s disease you are probably not going to be able to make informed health care decisions on your own.
You may be surprised to hear that the segment of the population that is between 85 and 94 years of age is growing faster than any other according to the most recent census statistics.
Alzheimer’s is certainly a widespread challenge that strips a significant percentage of seniors of their mental faculties. However, it is not the only cause of incapacity.
When you consider all of these facts, you can see that crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is probably not a wise choice.
While we are highlighting the importance of incapacity planning, we would be remiss if we did not touch upon living wills.
A living will is an advance directive for health care. With this legal device you record your preferences regarding the utilization of life-support measures.
Imagine a scenario where you are being kept alive through the use of artificial respiration and nutrition devices. There is no hope of recovery. Would you want the artificial life-sustaining measures removed, or would you want to be kept alive indefinitely?
This is a personal question, and there is no particular right or wrong answer. You can state your choice when you execute a living will.