A Living Will is an essential piece of your estate plan because it spells out your end of life medical decisions. If at any point you are unable to communicate your wishes – because you are in a coma or because a doctor has diagnosed you as incapable of making decisions – a Living Will allows your family and physicians to rest assured that your own personal beliefs and choices are being respected. A Living Will frees your loved ones from the unbearable burden of wondering, during a time of grieving, if they are doing “the right thing” regarding your care.
At Phelps LaClair, we understand that a Living Will is not a “one size fits all” legal document, rather it is your statement of what “quality of life” really means to you. It should address:
Having a Living Will without a Medical Power of Attorney is kind of like giving away your car but hanging onto the keys. Even with a Living Will, you need to empower someone that you trust to enforce your wishes and communicate with your doctors if you are not able to communicate on your own. That is the purpose of a Medical Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care).
A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to hand-select who you want to make medical decisions if you are incapable. A well-drafted Medical Power of Attorney will also include the proper HIPAA-compliant release language authorizing your chosen agents to speak with your doctors about your medical condition. Otherwise, the doctors would be prohibited under the strict medical privacy laws from discussing your medical condition with anybody (even your spouse).
Creating a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney may be one of the most simple, yet important, things that you can do for yourself and your loved ones. At Phelps LaClair, every estate plan that we prepare for a client includes this essential component.
Everyone needs a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney … do it now!
Click here to learn more about Medical Powers of Attorney and Living Wills.