Creating an estate plan isn’t just about distributing your property to the people you love. It’s also about protecting yourself if you experience some kind of medical emergency. A stroke, a heart attack or even a car crash could put you in a coma and leave you unable to communicate or maintain your household.
When you can’t act on your own, you need someone to make decisions and take steps on your behalf. The creation of a living will is one of the ways you can ensure that there will be someone to take action when you can’t speak or make decisions for yourself.
What documents do you need to empower someone else?
Your circumstances determine what documents are necessary in your living will. When you want to authorize someone to make certain financial or medical decisions on your behalf, drafting powers of attorney can be the simplest solution.
Such documents can give a specific person whom you trust, like a sibling or a child, the authority to make medical decisions or even complete financial transactions on your behalf. You might also want to create a health care proxy if you have extensive medical wishes that you need someone to carry out for you.
The more extensive your property is, the more important managing financial matters becomes in addition to health care. If no one has access to your banking accounts or if you are the sole owner of a small business, setting up a system to temporarily authorize someone to manage your assets or business may also be crucial for your protection.
What if you don’t have any documents?
If you don’t have an advance medical directive, health care proxy or powers of attorney on record authorizing someone to speak for you, there will only be limited opportunities for others to speak on your behalf.
Your spouse or immediate family members can sometimes make certain medical decisions for you. Business partners with ownership documents or account co-signers may be able to access certain financial resources. However, there aren’t many steps people can take without your explicit permission.
By planning ahead for a medical issue, you protect not only yourself and your finances but also the people you love and those who depend on you.