As difficult as it is to think about, everyone should take some time to consider end-of-life care. An important part of estate planning is making sure one's wishes are known for medical care in the event of incapacity and naming someone to make sure those wishes are honored and carried out.
A sudden accident or rapid-onset illness, like a stroke, can happen at any time. When it does, you may be unable to communicate your wishes. What measures should be taken, or withheld?
Think about these questions for a moment:
- If you were in a coma with no chance of recovery, would you want to be kept alive by artificial means?
- If you would not want to be kept alive, would you want to have nutrition withheld, or simply not have extraordinary measures taken if those were necessary to keep you alive?
- Do you know how your spouse, sibling, or parent would answer these questions, and would you feel comfortable making these decisions for them without their input?
Many people struggle as it is with the first questions but consider especially the last one. If you would be uncomfortable making these decisions for someone else, chances are they would feel the same about making them for you. Wouldn't you find it comforting to know, with certainty, their wishes? Again, they would feel the same—and it's in your power to grant them that comfort and guidance.
What documents should you have in place for end-of-life care?
Health Care Power of Attorney that allows an agent of your choice to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Living Will which communicates life and death preferences such as the desire not to have life-sustaining procedures or feeding tubes and is considered a directive that your agent and physician should follow.
HIPAA release that allows your health care providers to disclose your medical information to people you choose.
We recommend that you give these documents to your primary health care provider. As part of your estate plan, we will also provide 25 Suggested Topics to Discuss with your Health Care Agent as a conversation starter to make sure your agents know your wishes.
Please reach out to our Madison estate planning attorneys at (608) 447-0006 to discuss what documents you need—then take the important step of discussing your wishes.