Why Advanced Care Planning is Absolutely Critical

It’s a discussion most of us dread – what should happen if we are unable to make decisions about our medical care. This is an issue that arises quite often. If you suddenly suffer a stroke, a heart attack, or other debilitating condition resulting in you being incapacitated, someone will need to step in and decide what to do.

This is why advance care planning is so important. It puts you in the driver’s seat for your medical decisions.

Advance Care Planning enables you to designate someone (e.g., a close friend, a family member, your spouse, etc.) to make important medical decisions for you. But, most importantly, it puts the power in your hands. You can determine what decisions are made and how you want to be treated in this difficult situation.

Here is a video on important steps that need to be taken for proper advanced care planning:

Advance Care Planning Helps Your Loved Ones

The benefit of advance care planning is not confined to you and enabling your wishes to be followed. During unexpected or critical health situations, the stress and emotion of the moment can be overwhelming for your loved ones. They may be forced to make extremely difficult decisions, sometimes very quickly. In this way, advance care planning is a major benefit to people closest to you since it gives them the peace of mind in knowing and following your wishes.

Advance care planning is a process and needs to be documented, preferably with an experienced estate planning attorney to help ensure all of the necessary documents are completed correctly. One of the most important documents to complete is an “Advance Directive.” This can also be referred to as a Living Will or a Healthcare Power of Attorney. It is critical this document names an agent to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so. However, it is even more important that this document specifies what your wishes are.

Consider Adding a POLST to Your Estate Plan

If you are seriously ill or have a chronic, progressive illness, you should also consider completing a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. The POLST is a document that encourages discussion between you and your healthcare providers about end-of-life treatment options and preferences.

The primary difference between a POLST and an Advance Directive is that the Advance Directive is a legally binding document which appoints a healthcare decision maker. On the other hand, a POLST is generally used in emergency situations and actually complements your Advance Directive.

Let an Estate Planning Attorney Help

Completing an Advance Directive can be stressful since you have to contemplate some rather depressing scenarios. Do not fret – you do not have to do it on your own. Schedule a time to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area. They can assist in guiding you through the process and ensuring your Advance Directive is proper and legal.

Finally, as with any type of planning, a good conversation with your helpers and loved ones goes a long way. Once you have your legal documents in order and agents named, make sure you talk to your agents so they understand your wishes.