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Creating advance directives for end-of-life medical care

As you begin the estate planning process, you might be concerned about end-of-life care. What happens if you become seriously injured, terminally ill or enter later stages of dementia? This can be a scary thought, as you would not be able to make decisions about your own health care.

Thankfully there are ways to ensure you get the care you want and relieve your caregivers of making difficult decisions on their own. Keep reading to learn how to establish an advanced health care directive.

Power of attorney

You can plan ahead by establishing a power of attorney. This means you designate someone to be your representative to make decisions regarding your health care if you are incapable. Common choices for this role are a spouse, family member or close friend. When making your decision, make sure this person is willing to discuss difficult end-of-life care issues with you and can be trusted to make calls according to your values and wishes. 


Living wills

Another option is to create a living will that lays out your desired medical wishes in detail. You can have written plans for the following situations:

  • Resuscitation
  • Tube feeding
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Dialysis
  • Antibiotics
  • Organ donations
  • Pain management

These are difficult decisions to make. You may find that talking to your primary doctor, family members, friends and health care representative about these issues will help. Consider your values regarding independence and self-sufficiency. 

Reviewing and changing your directive

Whether you choose a power of attorney or living will, you can make changes to your health care wishes at any time. You may want to make modifications especially in the case of new diagnoses, a change in marital status or a change in personal values.

Medical care issues are important to consider as you begin drafting your estate plan. Establishing an advance health care directive can give you peace of mind and your loved ones a sense of relief. If you need help making these decisions, talk to an estate planning lawyer.

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