If you're developing an estate plan and drafting documents such as a will or trust, putting together an advance directive is vital. But, understanding the boundaries of advance directives can be challenging. Today, we're handing out some tips and tricks that can help you understand what you should or shouldn't include in yours.

To schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney, contact us online or via phone at (845) 203-0997.

What Is an Advance Directive?

Advance directives are also often called living wills. The primary purpose of an advance directive is to enable an individual to ensure their health and estate are properly cared for if they lose the capacity to make decisions for their own well-being.

Losing capacity could involve an individual being medically incapacitated, such as entering a coma or suffering from another medical event that damages their neural functions. However, it could also mean the development of conditions such as dementia or Alzheimers that impair the person's decision to make decisions that are in their own best interests.

An advance directive allows an individual to invoke Power of Attorney - POA - to appoint a person to care for their health and estate in the event they lose capacity.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people increasingly realize the importance of measures such as advance directives. However, talking about wills and trusts can be uncomfortable for many people - while a survey from the Conversation Project revealed that 92% of respondents said talking with loved ones about end-of-life care was important, only 32% of respondents had actually done so.

Making an advance directive can help you ensure your loved ones have a plan in place if you lose capacity. There are a few things you should specify in your advance directive:

  • Your healthcare agent or proxy. This is the individual who will be in charge of overseeing and administering healthcare to you in the event you lose capacity.
  • Your preferences for end-of-life care. This can include what kind of care you would like to receive if you cannot speak, a Do Not Resuscitate order if you feel that's the best option for you, etc.
  • Your estate administrator or proxy. This is the individual who will look after your estate if you lose capacity.
  • Wishes for your estate during end-of-life care. This can include how much of your financial resources you wish to expend on end-of-life care, how you want to handle your house if you need to move out of it, etc.
  • Your general values concerning the end of your life and how you would like to pass on. This can help your proxies and loved ones ensure that you receive care in line with your values, even if you can't communicate.
  • Individuals you do not want to make decisions regarding your healthcare or estate. If you have any estranged relations who you fear may make poor decisions for you, specify them and revoke their power to make decisions for you.
  • How you wish to be disposed of when you die. Many people have very specific wishes for what they want done with their bodies at the end of their lives - if you have any, make sure they're specified in your advance directive.

At Letterio & Haug, we'll work with you to ensure your advance directive meets your needs and ensure you receive the care you deserve at the end of your life. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (845) 203-0997.

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