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Living wills and the power of attorney for health care

| Jan 26, 2018 | probate |

Quite frequently, those who engage in estate planning maintain their focus on the financial aspects of the process. Sure, deciding how to distribute assets and diminish debts is of critical importance in these matters, but they are not the only concerns that Floridians should take into account.

One issue that should be carefully considered is one’s healthcare. It is possible that at some point an individual will become unable to make important healthcare decisions for himself or herself. Without a legal document indicating how one’s care is to be administered, or who should make important healthcare decisions, an individual may wind up with medical care that is contrarian to his or her wishes.

To avoid this potentiality, Floridians should be sure to address living wills and powers of attorney when developing their estate plan. A living will can specify whether an individual wants to receive life-prolonging care when he or she is incapacitated, and it can also indicate whether one wants to be resuscitated should the need arise. These end-of-life provisions can even state whether one wants to receive pain medication while incapacitated.

A power of attorney can designate an individual to make important health care decisions for an individual in the event that he or she is unable to do so. The power of attorney can increase or limit the scope of the designated individual’s power in accordance with his or her wishes. This designated individual should be carefully chosen, though, as he or she may be responsible for deciding which treatment is to be administered, how one’s body will be handled following death, and even access to medical records. It is important to note that a living will trumps any decisions made by this designated individual, but both legal instruments can be powerful when enacted in conjunction with one another.

The documents that bring these entities into legal reality need to be carefully crafted. If they are not, then unwanted consequences can befall an individual at the most crucial of times. For this reason, those who want to consider adding these aspects to their estate plan should have an open and honest conversation with their attorney.