When you think about retirement planning, the first things that likely come to your mind are your IRA, 401(k), or employee pension plan. While it’s true that these important financial plans will make your retirement years considerably more comfortable and secure, your personal estate plan also needs to plan for your eventual retirement and aging.
Specifically, your estate plan needs to include the following documents:
- Living Will
- Medical Power of Attorney
- HIPAA authorization
- Financial Power of Attorney
Your Living Will, sometimes called an Advance Directive, is your legal written document that sets forth your preferences for end-of-life care. In other words, this is the document in which you list what types of medical treatments and interventions you want — and don’t want — to keep you alive in the event you become seriously ill, injured or otherwise incapacitated.
You can make your Living Will as detailed as you wish. For instance, it may include preferences for or against the following:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart your heart if it fails
- Mechanical ventilation to keep you breathing if your lungs fail
- Tube feeding to supply you with nutrients and fluids if you can’t eat or drink on your own
- Dialysis to remove wastes from your blood if your kidneys fail
- Antibiotics and antivirals to treat any infections you have or may acquire while hospitalized
- Palliative care, i.e., comfort care, to manage your pain
- Organ donation once you die
Medical Power of Attorney
As detailed as your Living Will may be, there’s no way to foresee what types of medical decisions your future medical crises may call for. Consequently, your estate plan also needs to include your Medical Power of Attorney. This is the written legal document that names the person, often called your health care agent, health care proxy, or health care attorney-in-fact, that you want to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make or communicate them yourself.
You can’t name one of your doctors or anyone on any of your health care teams as your health care agent. Generally, you choose your spouse or one of your adult children to act in this capacity. Before naming them as your medical attorney-in-fact, however, you should thoroughly discuss the following with them:
- Are they willing to act as your health care agent?
- Do they understand and agree with the specifics set out in your Living Will?
- Are they willing to, if necessary, go against your doctors’ recommendations and other family members’ wishes?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that prevents health care providers and facilities from divulging your health information without your consent. Consequently, your estate plan needs to include your HIPAA authorization that consents to the person you designated as your health care agent in your Medical Power of Attorney (and others, if you desire) gaining access to your medical records and other sensitive health care information.
Financial Power of Attorney
Finally, you may wish to consider adding a Financial Power of Attorney to your estate plan. This written legal document names the person you want to act as your attorney-in-fact to make financial decisions for you in the event you can no longer make or communicate them yourself.
Necessary Legal Help
All of the documents mentioned above need to comply with both the applicable federal laws and the laws of your state. You will be glad to know that AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc. can give you all the legal help you need. So contact us today.