Old woman in a wheelchair

The Importance of Health Care Directives in Your Estate Plan

By David Hammond

Estate planning means so much more than drafting a will. There are other estate planning legal tools that are critical to protecting you and your family. For instance, health care directives are an important part of establishing a comprehensive estate plan that maximizes the protections available to you. Health care directives are legally binding documents that address what should happen to you regarding medical treatment should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your own wishes. Everyone should have health care directives in place. These vital legal tools are not just for the elderly or those with existing medical issues. They are for everyone. That is because anyone can suddenly fall ill or be involved in a devastating accident. Health care directives help you plan for the life events you cannot plan for.

The Importance of Health Care Directives in Your Estate Plan

There are several types of advance health care directives you can include in your estate plan. A health care proxy is one such directive type. In a health care proxy form, you designate a person who will be empowered to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to communicate your own wishes. Think about this. The person you designate as your health care proxy will act as your agent. They will make choices regarding who treats you, where you are treated, and what type of treatment you receive. Acting as a health care proxy is a huge responsibility and putting this legal document in place on your own can be a weight off of your shoulders. 

Having a health care proxy in place means that you are empowered to select this trusted individual. You can talk to the person you select as your proxy beforehand and discuss your values and opinions regarding healthcare and treatment options. You will get peace of mind knowing your health care choices will always be in the best hands. The more you talk to your health care proxy about your wishes and what other health care directives you have in place, the better they can handle the task of making sure your own health care wishes are enforced.

Another important health care directive to put into place is a living will. A living will can be as concise or as detailed as you wish. It is meant to outline your wishes regarding end of life medical care. It can direct your treating health care professionals regarding what medical interventions and life-prolonging treatment you would want or not want to receive should it be necessary to make these decisions on your behalf. Think about what types of medical treatment you may have an opposition to, either morally, religiously, or just personally. Memorialize your wishes in a living will. Then you can know that your doctors will always have guidance on your wishes. Your family and loved ones will not be left guessing what you would have wanted, a terribly difficult decision to be in.

New York Estate Planning Attorneys

Don’t wait to put a comprehensive estate plan in place. It provides important legal protections for you and your loved ones. The team of trusted estate planning attorneys at CDH Law is here to help see that you maximize the many and varied benefits of estate planning. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.