Estate Planning Blog

Advance Directives Necessary for Your Estate Planning

What should you have to ensure your wishes are honored?

The article above discusses new developments in digital advance directives for health care decision making. Advance directives play an important role in estate planning, and it is imperative one understands the different types available.

Health care proxies designate an agent to make health care decisions for you, in the event you cannot make them for yourself. Your agent may not make decisions for you if you are conscious and able to communicate your wishes to medical providers. Your agent can make life-ending decisions regarding the withdrawal of artificial hydration or nutrition only if your health care proxy indicates your agent knows your wishes concerning those decisions.

Living wills, in contrast to health care proxies, do not designate who you would like to make your health care decisions, but are expressions of your wishes regarding the nature of your medical care. Living wills can address your desires on important issues like whether you would like artificial hydration and nutrition in the event you have no real expectation of a decent quality of life due to an accident, illness, or other condition.

Powers of attorney, in contrast to health care proxies and living wills, concern only financial matters. Through your power of attorney, you can designate one or more individuals to make financial decisions for you. The extent of the authority you give your agents is up to you. You can give your agents power over a particular transaction or more general power over all your affairs.

Health care proxies, living wills, and powers of attorney are important advance directives regarding your medical and financial decision making. If you do not have these documents in place and become incompetent, your loved ones may be faced with bringing a potentially expensive and complex guardianship proceeding to obtain the necessary authority to handle your affairs.

At O’Connell and Aronowitz, we routinely assist clients in drafting advance directives as part of an overall estate plan. Please contact us at your local O’Connell and Aronowitz office to learn more.

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