Estate planning often focuses on handling your estate after you pass on, but alleviating the strain on your family could begin years before they consult the will.
Only one-third of all Americans have health directives in place, which means decisions on end-of-life care may fall to many distressed family members and attending physicians. Proper planning could ensure that your family doesn’t need to guess at your wishes, and can instead focus on following the blueprint as you dictated.
Many documents can contribute to your estate plan, both during your life and after. Wills and trusts may take precedence when managing your estate, but handling your care through powers of attorney and living wills can be just as important. You may lose the ability to convey your wishes before you pass, so make sure they’re laid out for your family well in advance.
Health care directives can have as much or as little influence on your treatment as you want:
- Making mandates: You can outline your desires for medical care before incapacitation strikes. Make your wishes known for allowable treatments, acceptable medications and even qualifying circumstances that can kick the directive into gear.
- Picking proxies: Even with your guidelines in place, someone will need to be in charge of keeping track of your instructions. You can determine who would be the best choice to handle your appointments, work alongside your physicians and make sure those involved follow your wishes.
- Leaving layouts: Your directions don’t need to cease when you pass on. You can still make choices on important matters like organ donation, funeral planning and religious rites after your medical care has come to an end.
Getting your affairs in order well in advance is all about taking care of your family. But being there for them is likely much more than divvying up your assets, rather it can start by helping them provide for you.