End of Life Health Care: What You Need to Know

Doctor Talking to a Patient

As you begin planning for retirement and doing general estate planning, do not overlook the importance of end of life health care planning. With people living longer than ever before, the reality is that you may not be in a position to communicate what your wishes and desires are for health care as you near the end of your life. It’s important that these are set up ahead of time utilizing something like an advanced healthcare directive.

An advance health care directive is simply a written document that appoints another person to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to. In many cases, this directive will spell out specific situations and how you want them handled, such as do not resuscitate orders.

The best time to create your advance directive is when you are young. You never know when you may be involved in an accident and become incapacitated. At a very minimum, you should at least designate a health care proxy, someone that can act on your behalf in such circumstances.

Naming a health care proxy or setting up an advance directive does not mean you are giving up your rights to determine your own health care. As long as you are able to communicate with your doctors your health care will always be left to you to decide. These other provisions only come into place if you cannot communicate.

If you have a health condition and you have a trusted medical provider it is always a good idea to have a conversation with them and your family about your wishes, should you become unable to communicate? You should also have a document stating your wishes that all parties sign and your doctor can keep.

Most experts agree that these wishes and guidelines should be re-reviewed after or around other major events in your life – when you hit a new decade in age, when a loved one dies, if you divorce, once diagnosed with a serious medical condition and/or a decline in your health.

By setting up these important plans formally, in writing, with your family and medical providers on board, you are not giving up any rights, nor are you indicating that you do not wish to be revived. You are simply sharing what you do and do not want in the case that you face a medical emergency and cannot effectively communicate these wishes to those taking care of you.

Advance directives, living wills, and other documents that spell these wishes out can provide you great peace of mind as you move forward in life.

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. We invite you to request a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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