The world is currently going through a time of uncertainty. Many people are frightened, stressed out, and unsure of what actions they should be taking. While everyone should be doing their best to stay positive and healthy, there are certain legal steps you can take to prepare for the unexpected.
This can be achieved 1 of 3 ways:
1. Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy (or agent) is a person who can help ensure you get the medical care you want at the end of your life. Your proxy should be someone you trust to make important decisions on your behalf. This person can either make all medical decisions or only certain ones you specifically name in the document. People usually choose a proxy in the event of the following situations:
- they are in a coma;
- they are terminally ill and not expected to make a recovery;
- they are diagnosed with a condition that affects memory;
- they are going to have surgery and something unexpected could happen; and/or
- they are suffering from an illness that leaves them unable to communicate.
2. Living Will
A living will is a document created for the purpose of expressing specific medical wishes and instructions in the event they become temporarily or permanently mentally incapacitated. This document can be as detailed as you would like it to be. Additionally, they can contain any medical directions for how you would like to be treated either while incapacitated or if you pass away.
People usually include directions on:
- breathing machines;
- feeding tubes;
- IV drips;
- surgical procedures; and/or
- body tissue and organ donation.
3. Power of Attorney
A legal power of attorney gives one person (an agent) the ability to act on the other's behalf. Power of attorney is not just for medical situations, but can be used in the event you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself.
Commonly, a power of attorney ends once a person becomes mentally incapacitated, but you can amend this directive to make provisions for this scenario. When a power of attorney extends to this point, it is known as a durable power of attorney. This legal action is effective immediately after you sign it.