- posted: Jun. 30, 2022
- Estate Planning
Everyone should have a viable estate plan in place. One component of a comprehensive plan deals with your financial interests through the execution of documents like wills, financial powers of attorney and trusts. No estate plan is complete, however, without also protecting your medical or health care interests. Two vehicles that can provide protection are living wills and health care powers of attorney.
A living will is a document that allows you make known what types of medical treatment you want to be provided or withheld should you have a terminal condition or enter into a persistent vegetative state, such as an irreversible coma. By taking these life-or-death decisions out of the hands of your family, you free them from the difficult and often contentious task of guessing what choices you would have made.
A health care power of attorney allows you to name an agent who will make health care decisions for you if you are not able. It is also a good idea to name an alternate agent who can act if the first person you named cannot serve in this role. A health care power of attorney applies in more situations than a living will. For example, if you are rendered unconscious by a car accident but are likely to recover, your living will does not apply and yet decisions will have to be made for you. This situation also occurs when age or dementia takes away your ability to make everyday health care decisions, like consent to a flu shot or deciding what course of treatment to pursue after a diagnosis.
You owe it to yourself and your family members to communicate your wishes and instructions while you are still in good health. Follow these steps to put these important documents into effect:
- Contact an Arizona estate law attorney who is experienced in drafting living wills and health care powers of attorney.
- Arrange a consultation with the attorney and ask any questions you may have. Most attorneys will provide you with checklists or forms to review.
- Take the documents home with you so that you can spend time selecting options and discussing them with your family.
- Choose an agent and an alternate agent for your power of attorney. Discuss with each of them the contents of the documents that you are going to sign.
- Follow the attorney’s instructions for executing the living will and health care power of attorney, preferably in the attorney’s office.
- Ask your attorney about where to keep the originally signed documents, who should receive copies and how to register your documents with the Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry.
Located in Mesa, Arizona, the Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC provides skilled counsel for comprehensive estate planning services, including living wills and health care powers of attorney. Please contact us online or call (480) 500-1866 for an initial phone consultation.