What you do with your estate will determine your ultimate legacy. Whether you leave property for family members or help fund the creation of a scholarship program, the way you plan to distribute the assets that you leave behind when you die will determine how people remember you.
Crafting a thoughtful legacy is often the primary consideration of those planning their estates. Testators should address belongings and the needs of their dependent family members in their estate plans. However, estate planning can also involve documents that protect you while you are still alive.
A living will is a statement of preferences that will influence your medical care if you are in a coma or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes to others. How important is it to add a living will to your estate plan?
Advanced directives empower and protect
Some people find the phrase living will confusing, which is one reason why the state has transitioned away from that term. Although state law does include the term living will, the name of the statute includes the more modern term health care advance directive. An advance health care directive is a document explaining your preferences for those who might have to make medical choices on your behalf.
Typically, advance directives discuss life support, pain management and other forms of intensive intervention. These documents are usually most powerful when combined with a medical power of attorney. Granting power of attorney to someone outside of your immediate family can be an effective way to reduce the stress on the people you love and protect yourself from a scenario where the person named to handle your medical wishes also ends up dying or incapacitated at the same time as you.
Advance directives often change
Like other estate planning documents, advance directives include details that will vary significantly based on your health, personal beliefs and family circumstances. Rather than waiting until you know your medical wishes will never change again, you’ll benefit more from creating an advanced directive when you are young and healthy and then changing it to reflect any changes in your situation that influence your medical wishes.
Adding the rights documents to your estate plan and keeping them up to date will protect you in a medical emergency and relieve the stress and anxiety experienced by your loved ones in that situation.