Putting together a comprehensive estate plan can mean needing to consider issues that you would otherwise prefer to avoid. Planning for your death means that you have to reflect on your own mortality and on what will happen to the people you love if you aren’t there to help take care of them.
Deciding how to split up your property is an important part of planning your estate, but your property and your death shouldn’t be the only considerations on your mind. A good estate plan should likely also include a living will to protect you and guide the people you love and trust.
A living will protects you in the event of incapacitation
As you can probably infer from the name, a living will contains your wishes in a situation when you are alive but unable to speak on your own behalf. Some of the most important things you will have to consider when creating a living will might include your health issues as you age and also your religion.
You may choose to name someone as your health care proxy or give them power of attorney authority to manage your affairs when you cannot. You may also want to create an advance medical directive that outlines all of your major medical preferences.
What medical issues would you address in a living will?
It would be hard to know exactly what medical decisions people will have to make on your behalf. You could wind up incapacitated because of a stroke or car crash, and the decisions family members have to make will likely vary depending on the cause of your condition.
As a general rule, you want to plan for your current needs and also think about how those wishes might change as you age. Think about your family history, including how long people tend to live and if there are any family histories of serious medical conditions. That can help you determine what kind of care you might need later on.
Common medical decisions people address in an advance medical directive might include:
- Life support
- Pain relief
- Feeding tubes
- Blood transfusions
- Organ donation
No matter how much your family members love you, they may have a hard time remembering your medical preferences when they are already dealing with the stress of your injury or illness. Putting everything in writing insures that the people closest to you will know what your wishes are if you can’t communicate them for yourself.