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Every adult should have a health care directive and power of attorney

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Many individuals have at least a rudimentary understanding of the importance of having a will, yet many will still wait until later in life to get their affairs in order. Estate planning, including drafting a will, isn’t really something that you should delay. Life is unpredictable. You’ll want to prepare for whatever eventuality may occur — whenever it happens.

If you were to inquire about one aspect of estate planning that you should assuredly not delay, though, it would be drafting a health care directive and a health care power of attorney. Everyone has different ideas about how they want their life to go if their health takes a turn for the worse. The documents referenced above allow you to voice your preferences — even if you’re not able to communicate at the time.

What distinguishes a health care directive from a power of attorney?

The terminology “health care directive” and “living will” are interchangeable. The primary purpose of this legal document is to outline the steps you’d like doctors to take if you found yourself in an urgent medical situation and weren’t able to voice your preferences yourself. 

Health care powers of attorney are legal documents that allow you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you when you’re unable to do so. 

What should you do before drafting health care directives and powers of attorney?

The first step you should take when you decide that drafting a health care powers of attorney or directive is right for you is to meet with any prospective candidate you’re looking to appoint to such a role. You’ll want to go over what their responsibilities would be if they assumed such a role. You’ll also want to go over the choices you’d want them to make if certain situations arose. 

Understanding the ins and outs of that appointee’s role and to what lengths you must go to document your preferences isn’t likely to come to you naturally. You’ll need to learn more about these responsibilities and what this individual must step up and do before meeting with them yourself.