If something happens so that you’re incapacitated and can’t speak to the doctors, medical decisions may still need to be made. This could happen if a young person is severely injured in a car accident, for instance, or if an older person suffers from a heart attack or a stroke.
Regardless of your age, you may want to think about how these decisions are going to be made. There are two parts of an estate plan that you can use.
A general advance directive
The first option is to create an advance directive that simply gives instructions to your potential doctors. If you know that you don’t want to be kept on life support, for example, you can put that in the advance directive. You can make some of your health decisions in advance, especially if you have religious or cultural considerations to take into account.
A medical power of attorney
A more dynamic way to address this, however, is to use a medical power of attorney. By using this document, you give power to an agent to make medical decisions in the future. The power of attorney does not go into effect right when you make it. Instead, it stipulates that power is only transferred to your agent if you are incapacitated and can no longer make your own decisions. But you get the peace of mind of knowing that someone you trust is going to make those choices for you, and you don’t have to think of everything in advance.
These are just two ways to address your medical future. Make sure that you are well aware of all the legal options at your disposal.