When most people think of estate planning, think about detailing their wishes for after death. When crafting a comprehensive estate plan, you should also address your wishes for incapacitation, not just death. An advance directive, also referred to as a living will, addresses those details.
Your advance directive details your wishes when you cannot do so yourself.
What wishes does an advance directive cover?
Your advance directive illustrates your preferences for medical intervention when you are incapable of expressing your wishes or making medical decisions. Your directive should address your preferences for life-sustaining care, extraordinary measures for resuscitation, organ donation decisions and palliative care plans.
What else should you include in an advance directive?
In addition to clearly expressing your medical wishes, your advance directive also appoints a person to serve as your medical power of attorney. This individual makes medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot do so. Choose someone who understands your wishes and can carry them out. While your spouse is a logical choice, make sure they can make the decisions you prefer, including ending interventions if you wish.
Should you tell anyone about your advance directive?
When you complete an advance directive as part of your estate plan, provide a copy to your doctor and the local hospital. Discuss your wishes with the person you appointed as medical power of attorney and provide them a copy as well.
Estate planning is more than just writing a will. Consider the value of an advance directive for your plan as well.