End of life planning decisions are neither simple to make nor pleasant to address. Unfortunately, these are some of the most important decisions you can make when planning for the future. Failure to consider these choices while you are of sound mind and body can result in these decisions being determined by the courts, causing your loved ones pain and distress. Take time now to thoughtfully consider your incapacity planning options with an estate planning specialist and share your decisions with trusted individuals.

Durable power of attorney

The legal document known as a power of attorney allows you to assign an individual of your choosing to act on your behalf. The trusted individual you name as power of attorney will have the ability to pay your bills, manage your investments, and make other decisions should you be unable to do so. General powers of attorney are nondurable, meaning that they cease should you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney stays effective in the event you become incapacitated and become unable to tend to matters on your own. Without a valid durable powers of attorney, if you become incapacitated, your loved ones may not have the authority to handle your affairs; they may need to go to court.

Designation of healthcare surrogate

A healthcare surrogate – or healthcare agent – is an individual that you name to receive durable power of attorney for your healthcare. This designation gives the individual the power to make medical decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated or unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Your healthcare surrogate will be given complete authority to make your medical decisions in that circumstance but they will not have the ability to override any healthcare instructions that you have set forth in a living will.

Living will

A living will is a legally binding document that enables you to set forth your wishes regarding medical and end-of-life treatment decisions in the event of an emergency or incapacitation. You may specify the type of healthcare you want to receive as well as those treatments you do not wish to receive. By including a living will in your estate plan, your family members and medical professionals will receive clear instructions regarding your healthcare and medical treatment. When preparing a living will, it is best to be as detailed as possible in your instructions.

Experience, knowledge, and understanding is just a phone call away

For more than 40 years, the Maryland estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates have developed powers of attorney, living wills, last will and testaments, healthcare surrogate designations, and other facets of estate plans that are designed to help our clients address their concerns and achieve their long-term financial goals. If you have not developed an estate plan or are considering changes to an existing plan, contact one of our estate planning specialists today at 301-468-3220 or online to arrange a consultation.