In addition to planning for the disposition of your property at the time of your death, it is advisable that you also consider making advance directives. Advances in medical technology and in the control of acute life-threatening illnesses have made it necessary for persons to consider their desires regarding future medical care, particularly if they should become mentally incapacitated. If a patient is incapacitated and cannot make their own decisions, legal authority rests with a surrogate, who acts according to the patient’s previously expressed wishes (for instance, in a living will or a durable power of attorney), uses substituted judgment to interpret what the patient would likely want or decides, according to their own judgment, what is in the patient’s best interests.
How A Living Will Can Help You Define The Future
A “living will” is an instrument that states your desire regarding whether your life should be artificially prolonged if you have a terminal condition and are expected to die within a short period of time. In executing a living will, you are simply communicating your wishes with regard to whether you will want to receive artificially supplied nutrition and hydration, even if the efforts to sustain your life are futile or excessively burdensome to you. The Health Care Representative Appointment form is an instrument that designates health care representatives to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. The Health Care Representative Appointment form cannot be used by your health care representative to make these decisions unless you are deemed incapacitated by a physician.
Finally, the durable power of attorney is an instrument that designates representatives, also known as attorneys-in-fact, to handle all your financial and property affairs in the event of your incapacity. This type of document may also be used to allow a designated attorney-in-fact to make certain health care decisions for an incapacitated person.