As we age, we often become more concerned with end-of-life issues. After all, many people have preferences about what type of care they want and who they want making decisions for them if they are in a coma, in a vegetative state or are dying. Two estate planning documents that address these issues are a living will and a health care power of attorney.
A Living Will also known as an Advance Medical Directive
In a living will, you will specify what types of medical care and end-of-life treatment you want if you are dying or in a vegetative state. For example, you can state whether you want CPR to be performed, if you want to be put on a ventilator, if you want to receive artificial nutrition and other comfort care treatments. These are very personal decisions and there is no one-size-fits all answer. Still, it is important to have a living will so your loved ones are not left guessing what you would want during a time that is understandably very stressful and emotional for them.
Health care power of attorney
A durable power of attorney for health care is a document in which you select a person to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This may be because you are in a coma or a vegetative state or are otherwise incapacitated. It is important to discuss your decision with the person you want to fulfill this role to ensure they are willing and able to do so. The person you choose should be familiar enough with you that they can make the decisions you would have made if you could. Health care power of attorney works hand-in-hand with a living will.
There are other supplemental documents you may want in your estate plan for end-of-life care. For example, you may want a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, a DNI (do not intubate) order and a form stating whether you want to be an organ donor. In the end, with advance planning and a comprehensive estate plan, you can ensure your final wishes will be met.