No one wants to think about their preferences for end-of-life care. However, it’s important to outline how you want your finances and medical care handled in the event you are unable to advocate for yourself.
An estate plan not only outlines end-of-life care, but can also listwho can look out for your medical and financial well-being if you are incapacitated.
1. Make Your Final Wishes Known
Sit down with your family to discuss your final wishes. While your estate plan will contain an advance directive and other legal documents, it’s important for family members to hear your final wishes directly from you. If your mental or physical health deteriorates, your family will then be able to make decisions on your behalf that reflect your final wishes and estate plan.
We’re not saying this conversation won’t be difficult, but it will also give you a chance to explain the reasoning behind your choices. If you have this conversation before illness or injury, your loved ones will have more time to come to terms with your final wishes. Letting your family know what you want in person and in writing will also help prevent misunderstandings.
2. Choose Your Advocates Wisely
Whoever you name as your power of attorney will handle your financial affairs in the event you are physically or mentally incapacitated. Choose your advocate wisely. The person you choose should be trustworthy and knowledgeable enough to pay bills, handle lawsuits, and manage assets in general.
The person you choose for financial power of attorney should also be strong enough to respect your final wishes, even if other family members disagree. An estate attorney can help you determine the best candidates for the job.
3. Choose a Healthcare Power of Attorney
Amakes medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Make sure whoever you pick is someone who will respect your final wishes, even if there’s opposition from other family members. For example, some family members might be reluctant to take you off of life support, even if it’s what you would have wanted.
A common mistake people make is choosing someone who won’t be emotionally strong enough to make the tough decisions. For example, our estate planning lawyers at Foster & Harmon wouldn’t recommend choosing your most soft-hearted child to advise doctors to withhold nutrition and hydration while you are in an irreversible coma.
While you can have the same person be power of attorney for finances and healthcare, some of our clients choose to split up these responsibilities between two people. Our elder care attorney can help you determine what is best for your unique circumstances, as well as answer any questions you may have about your living will.
Our Lansing elder law attorneys at Foster & Harmon are ready to help you create an estate plan that honors your final wishes. We also are able to help with last will and testaments, Social Security, asset protection, family law options, and more. To schedule your free consultation, call (517) 337-4600. We look forward to hearing from you!