Estate Planning – Living Will/Healthcare Directive

, ,

The third document to include as part of your estate plan is a Living Will/Advanced Healthcare Directive. A Living Will allows you to indicate what sort of measures you would like or would not like to the extent the measures would only serve to delay your inevitable death. Specifically, these decisions would come into play if you are in a terminal condition or in a state of permanent unconsciousness, including persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma. If in that situation, you can elect or deny mechanical respiration, cardiac resuscitation, blood products, tube feeding, and dialysis, among other types of treatment.

You can name a surrogate to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to express your own intentions. Your surrogate is limited to the directives in the document. Your surrogate may also have access to your health care records and be able to authorize certain actions on your behalf. For example, to complete insurance forms, sign releases for your health care records, or authorize medication, surgical procedures, or donation of your anatomical parts. Successor surrogates can be named in the event the primary surrogate is unwillingW or unable to act. Similarly, individuals can be named as co-surrogates with the requirement they act jointly. Keep in mind the practical implications of naming individuals that must serve jointly, particularly if they live out-of-state or are estranged from their co-surrogate. Finally, your named surrogate should be someone you trust and you should discuss your intentions with them in advance.