What Is a Health Care Directive and Why I Do I Need One?

health care directiveA power of attorney is a legally binding document that can be used to give someone else the ability to act on your behalf. This document can be used for a variety of different reasons, but in the elder law arena, powers of attorney are used to account for possible incapacity.

You should definitely prepare in advance for incapacitation when you are creating a plan for aging. A very significant percentage of senior citizens become unable to handle all of their own affairs at some point in time. There are many different causes of incapacity, but Alzheimer’s disease is at the top of the list.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides a lot of great information about the disease. According to their website, around 45 percent of people who are at least 85 are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. People are living longer lives, and it is likely that you will live into your eighties if you reach the age of 65.

When you combine all of the statistics, you can see why incapacity planning is important. A certain type of power of attorney called a durable power of attorney is used for incapacity planning purposes. A durable power of attorney for health care is an advance health care directive. This type of power of attorney remains in effect even if the grantor becomes incapacitated. A power of attorney that is not durable would no longer be in effect.

If you are using a durable power of attorney to account for possible incapacitation, you would probably want the document to go into effect soon as you create it. The agent or attorney-in-fact that you name in the document to represent you would have the ability to act on your behalf as soon as you grant the power.

However, you could create a power of attorney without informing the agent at first. Your attorney could maintain possession of the document, and you could have the attorney inform the agent if you decide that you would like the agent to begin to manage your affairs.

In some states, a springing durable power of attorney would be another option. This type of power of attorney would only go into effect if you were to become incapacitated. Florida no longer permits springing powers of attorney unless someone is in the military.

In addition to the durable power of attorney that is an advance health care directive, you can also include a durable power of attorney to empower someone to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity.

Another Advance Health Care Directive

A durable power of attorney for health care is an important piece to the incapacity planning puzzle, but there is another advance health care directive that should certainly be a part of your incapacity plan. The advance health care directive that we are referring to is the living will.

Everyone has heard of the estate planning document called a last will or last will and testament. This is a document that can be used to state your wishes regarding the way that your property will be distributed after you are gone. You also state your wishes in a living will, but they are not related to monetary assets.

With a living will, you record your life support preferences in a legally binding manner. If you ever become unable to communicate decisions on your own due to incapacitation, medical professionals would be compelled to follow the wishes that you set forth in your living will. You would be the ultimate decision-maker, and your family members would know that your wishes were being carried out. As a result, there would be no potential for disagreements among people that you love if this difficult scenario was to play itself out toward  the end of your life.

Take Action to Create Advance Health Care Directives

If you are currently unprepared for incapacity, action is required. Our firm can help if you would like to create a plan so that your life-support wishes are known and representatives are in place to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.

Attend a seminar today. Our no obligation consultation after a seminar will help you answer all of your questions and help you include advance health care directives within a broader, comprehensive estate plan. Ultimately, you can address the end-of-life issues that many of us face, and you can also make sure that your loved ones are appropriately provided for from a financial perspective after you are gone.

Give us a call at 239-225-7911. If you would prefer to reach out electronically, you can simply send us a message through our contact page.

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Rely on the Barbara M. Pizzolato, P.A. skilled estate team to shield your work and guide your loved ones.

We specialize in estate planning, incapacity planning, business planning, trust administration, and probate.

Take your first step by contacting us or attending a free estate planning event today.

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