We live in an age of medical advances that are enabling us to live longer than ever before. The flip side of this is that, because we are living longer, chances are there will be a point at which we can no longer make our own decisions, and a longer period of time when that may be true.
Without some estate planning documents in place before the need arises, it’s possible that you could lose control of your choices regarding your healthcare. If you do not provide clear instructions about what kind of medical interventions you may want for yourself, a number of problems may arise:
• Conflict can occur within the family if there are people arguing for different decisions.
• Family members may feel guilt if they have to make decisions about life support in the absence of clear instructions.
• Confusion may cause delays in making decisions and resolving medical issues.
• High costs may result if any conflicts must be resolved in court.
Decisions about the need for medical treatment or the appropriate residential setting can be hard for family members and loved ones to make at an emotionally difficult time. The need for others to make healthcare decisions for you can be avoided with proper estate planning.
There are some simple documents that will help to make your healthcare wishes clear. These documents include a will, a medical power of attorney, a living will, an advance directive that combines both, and a medical order of life sustaining treatment.