The average approach to estate planning focuses on the basics. People worry about their dependents and naming a guardian and ensuring the right people inherit their property. Those are excellent bare minimum essentials to address in an estate plan, but there are other concerns that people all too often overlook.
There are documents beyond just a simple will that still serve a basic purpose in an estate plan. While it is rare, people can experience incapacitation for numerous reasons. They could fall off of a ladder wall hanging string lights for the office holiday party. They could suffer an injury in a car crash or an assault. Some people end up incapacitated because of a medical incident, like a pulmonary embolism.
Those who cannot communicate on their own behalf anymore or who lack the cognitive capacity to make adult decisions will generally receive the care that their physician believes is appropriate according to current best standards at a facility or in a particular area of medicine. An advance health care directive is necessary if someone wants their care to deviate from those standard practices in any meaningful way.
Who generally creates an advance medical directive
Any legal adults would benefit from an advance health care directive. As soon as someone turns 18 and becomes an adult, their parents lose the ability to access their medical records and make decisions about their health care. Unless those young adults marry, there may be no one to speak for their medical preferences in an incapacitating emergency.
Many experts recommend having powers of attorney naming an authorized agent and an advance directive naming someone’s preference in place as soon as they becomes an adult. At a bare minimum, those experiencing some kind of significant medical event or illness will typically want to create an advance directive. The same is true for those preparing for retirement.
Although people don’t much like to think about experiencing a medical emergency, drafting advance health care directives is often necessary for those facing serious medical issues, like organ transplants and chemotherapy. Additionally, those preparing for their golden years and considering their quality of life as they age may want to put directives in place as well.
Creating basic estate planning documents, including advance health care directives, can give people more security and protection regardless of what happens in life.