The end of your life is inevitable. You will have no control over when you will pass away and how you will die. But one thing you can prepare for are your end of life documents that will ensure that at least your final wishes for your final breath will be followed.
It is recommended that you have an advance directive set up which are legal documents that will provide instructions to your family and healthcare professionals on how you want your future healthcare handled. An advance directive is composed of a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. These also are used to appoint a person that you trust to decide for yourself in the event that you can no longer speak for yourself. When making advance directives, be mindful as well of your state’s regulations for these as they differ from place to place.
I have listed some of the end of life documents that you might want to consider having. Make sure that you discuss these with your attorney and advise your family that you have this set up in case something happens to you to make sure that your final wishes for your healthcare will be followed. You might think that there is no need for you to have these ready when you have already provided instructions to your family. There are some states that do not allow family members to decide on end of life healthcare decisions, so it’s always better to have these ready for that time.
Preparing a Living Will
A living will is a legal documents that puts in black and white the medical treatments that you prefer when you can no longer communicate these as you reach the end of your life. This will help you and your family decide on what type of treatments will be provided to you towards the end of your life.
Also called directive to physicians or medical directive, a living will is protected by the Constitution and by case law. Your decision to accept or even refuse treatment is considered a legal right and will be protected. In order to have your wishes fulfilled completely, you must first make sure what your state allows under living wills as the state can control when the living will takes effect and will define which treatments will be applied.
Preparing a Healthcare Proxy or Healthcare Power of Attorney
This legal documents will let you assign a healthcare proxy. A healthcare proxy is a family member or a person that you trust who will have the power to decide the treatments that you will undergo when you cannot speak for yourself as you reach your end of life.
Once you have picked out your healthcare proxy, make sure to discuss with this appointed person your values about the quality of life and the treatments that you would like to receive when you reach the end of life.
Take note that the healthcare proxy that you are assigning will ONLY make decisions on your medical treatment. This is different from a power of attorney given to an individual which is solely for financial matters.
Preparing a Will or Living Trust
These are legal documents that are not related to your healthcare but should also be prepared if you want to ensure that all your properties and money will be handed down to your heirs. Most of the time, families are not aware of the different properties and businesses set up by the head of the family. Having a will ensures that you are able to divide these among your beneficiaries as you see fit.