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Estate planning for end-of-life and incapacity care

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Many people focus on passing down assets in their estate plan, but that’s not the only thing a comprehensive estate plan does. It should also outline your preferences for your end-of-life care and care in the event that you’re incapacitated due to illness or injury more broadly.

When you’re getting the plans sorted out, you should focus on two specific concerns— medical care and financial matters. Setting everything up for these two areas of life can give you peace of mind because you’ll know you’re taken care of, and your family won’t have the burden of making every decision for you.

Planning for medical care

A healthcare proxy, also known as a medical power of attorney, allows you to appoint someone you trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. This document ensures that the person making decisions about your medical care understands your wishes. It’s important to have candid discussions with your chosen proxy about your values and the extent of medical interventions you desire.

A living will is a type of advance directive that specifies your preferences regarding medical treatments and life-sustaining measures, such as artificial hydration and nutrition, if you are terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. While New York State doesn’t have a statute specifically for living wills, courts have upheld them as evidence of a person’s wishes regarding end-of-life care.

DNR orders are specific instructions not to use cardiopulmonary resuscitation if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. This directive is crucial for individuals who wish to avoid aggressive measures that might prolong life in situations of terminal illness or severe quality of life impairment.

Planning for financial matters

A power of attorney for finances allows you to designate an agent to manage your financial affairs. This can include paying bills, managing investments and making financial decisions. A durable POA means it remains in effect if you become incapacitated, ensuring continuity in managing your financial matters without court intervention.

These end-of-life and incapacity components of an estate plan are terminated when you pass away. The financial decisions will then fall on the person who has been granted authority over your estate. These are only parts of a comprehensive estate plan, so it’s critical to work with a legal representative to ensure your wishes are sufficiently relayed overall.