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Having a living will and a power of attorney for healthcare will allow a designated person to make decisions on your behalf, when you are unable to communicate your wishes. This may be more important for a single person than someone with a spouse.
What would happen if a single person became so sick, that they were taken to the hospital in an unconscious state and were unable to express their wishes for health care? This is the scenario that having the correct estate plans in place is designed to avoid. According to the article “2 Estate-Planning Tools That Singles Should Consider” from Morningstar, having a living will or advance medical directive in place expresses your wishes for whether or not to be given life-sustaining treatment.
This document, prepared and signed when you are of sound mind, provides you the opportunity to declare whether or not you want to be removed from life supporting measures, if you become terminally ill and incapacitated.
Like a living will, a durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document that names an agent to make healthcare decisions for you, if you are unable to make them yourself.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare can provide your instructions in circumstances in which you’re not necessarily terminally ill, but you are incapacitated.
When selecting an agent, find a person you trust enough to act on your behalf when you’re unable. Let this person know exactly how you feel about blood transfusions, organ transplants, disclosure of your medical information and other sensitive topics that may arise if you’re incapacitated.
A power of attorney eliminates any confusion, especially if this person is someone other than your spouse. Your doctors will know exactly who the decision-maker is among your relatives and friends.
These two documents aren’t all that comprise a fully comprehensive estate plan. Singles should regularly make certain that the beneficiary designations on their checking and retirement accounts are up to date.
You should also consider your life insurance needs, especially if you have children and/or a mortgage.
It is also important to understand that a living will doesn’t address the issues of a will. A will ensures that your property is distributed after your death in accordance with your wishes. Ask for help from an experienced estate planning attorney.
Having these two documents in place will ensure that in a health care emergency, your wishes will be followed. The names of the documents and the powers they convey do vary slightly from state to state, so it will be best to speak with an estate planning attorney in your state who can create these documents for your protection.
Reference: Morningstar (April 23, 2019) “2 Estate-Planning Tools That Singles Should Consider”