No one looks forward to planning for their own end-of-life needs, and for reasons that are entirely understandable. Estate planning forces us to confront our own mortality, which is difficult for many people to take on. However, there are important aspects of one’s eventual medical needs that must be addressed within the estate planning process, making it imperative for New Jersey residents to have these conversations sooner rather than later.
One issue that deserves careful consideration involves determining who is best suited to serve as your medical power of attorney. This individual will be the one tasked with making your medical decisions in the event that you are rendered unable to do so on your own behalf. He or she will have the power to completely dictate the course of your medical treatment, so it is essential that the individual selected is willing to listen to your wishes and follow through on them exactly.
Another way to address these needs involves the creation of a living will. This is a document that clearly outlines in writing how you would like your health care to be conducted in the event that you become incapacitated. It can be as specific as you like, and can list the treatments that you do and do not wish to be subjected to. It is important to understand that a living will can never encompass the full range of available treatment options, and is therefore not a sufficient replacement for designating a medical power of attorney.
These issues should be included within any estate planning process, and form the legal basis for how an individual’s health care needs will be attended to in the event of a serious medical event. In addition, those in New Jersey who have already completed these documents should periodically review them to make sure that the provisions outlined within are still in line with one’s wishes. It is not uncommon for circumstances to necessitate the reassignment of medical power of attorney to a different individual.
Source: U.S. News and World Report, 6 Decisions to Make Before You Die, Kimberly Leonard, Feb. 26, 2014