Morningstar’s article, “2 Estate-Planning Tools That Singles Should Consider” explains that a living will (or advance medical directive) is a legal document that details your wishes for life-sustaining treatment. It’s a document that you sign when you’re of sound mind and says you want to be removed from life supporting measures if you become terminally ill and incapacitated.
If you’re on life support with no chance of getting better, a living will or advance medical directive allows you to have your family avoid the expense and stress of keeping you alive artificially.
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 in the event 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 in the event 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 also 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 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. An experienced estate planning attorney can help with all the above.
These two documents—a living will and a durable power of attorney—can help ensure that in a healthcare emergency, any medical and financial decisions made on your behalf are in accordance with your wishes.
Reference: Morningstar (April 23, 2019) “2 Estate-Planning Tools That Singles Should Consider”