Do You Need A Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney?

Attorney in Raleigh NC: Arranging a Living Will, HPOA, or DPOA Can Ease Stress When Dealing With a Serious Illness or Accident.

While thinking about the fact that you may one day become incapacitated or incompetent is uncomfortable, finding yourself in this situation without the benefit of a living will (sometimes called an “Advanced Health Care Directive”), durable power of attorney or healthcare power of attorney would definitely be more uncomfortable.    In our next two posts, our estate attorney in Raleigh NC will focus on why it is so important to have these arrangements in place and specific times throughout your life when it is necessary to review and make changes to these documents.

No one ever thinks it will happen to them.   No one plans to suffer from a serious illness or a life altering accident.   Unfortunately, accidents do happen despite our best efforts to avoid them.   Accidents and illness can strike anyone at any age.  Those that have planned for this eventuality are better equipped to deal with the aftermath.   They will benefit from the reduced stress that comes from having made some critical decisions long before they were necessary.

Having arrangements such as a living will, durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney in place can ease the stress associated with adjusting to your new life. Having a plan in place gives you the control to designate the person that you want making decisions on your behalf rather than leaving it up to a court to appoint someone for you. Letting the court decide takes time and in the end may result in someone that you would rather not have in charge being given control of your assets and/or making decisions regarding your health, well-being and living arrangements.

A living will stipulates your treatment preferences during a medical emergency.   What level of life saving care would you like to receive?   Some people are strongly opposed to being kept alive by machines.   If you have any objections to the use of ventilators, respirators and other life sustaining devices you could spell your wishes out in a living will, thus removing the burden of making a life ending decision from your loved ones.

Healthcare Power of Attorney| Attorney Raleigh NC

A health care power of attorney authorizes an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself.   In addition to life sustaining decisions, this could also include consent for surgery or other medical procedures.

Is it necessary to have both a living will and a health care power of attorney? You may want to consider having both, as it’s important to make sure that should you become incapacitated, you’ll have a designated person to step in as your agent. They’ll be able to make decisions on your behalf, that haven’t been included in your living will.

A durable power of attorney designates someone to be in charge of your finances in the event that you are unable to handle your affairs on your own.  This person would have access to your finances and be able to pay bills and conduct other business transactions on your behalf.   It’s important to have someone who can step in and fill this role so that you don’t have debts piling up while you are incapacitated.   When you are recovering from a serious illness or accident the last thing that you need is to be worried about whether or not your bills are being paid. You want to be sure that the individual you choose will be responsible with your finances and see that all debts are met in a timely manner.   You don’t want your recovery hindered by concerns over angry creditors or misspent funds. By choosing someone that you trust implicitly you can rest assured that things will be handled properly.

Having a living will, health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney is, in a way, like having insurance. None of these documents will prevent bad things from happening, but they can ease the pain of the situation when and if something unexpected does occur. Taking the time to create a living will, health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney helps to ensure that your wishes will be carried out in the event that you ever become incapacitated or are declared incompetent.

A Note From Our Attorney in Raleigh NC:

As an attorney in Raleigh NC, I often encounter people who recognize the need to have these three documents, but have continually failed to meet with an attorney to draft these documents. This failure to act occurs for multiple reasons, including from unfounded confidence that the person will not become incompetent or incapacitated for a while. However, none of us can predict the future, and therefore we cannot predict when dire circumstances arise. Often, the most difficult part of my job is seeing individuals who waited too long to get these three documents, As a result of their own incapacity, their family members will struggle to manage that person’s life and to make decisions on behalf of that person. These struggles may include moral dilemmas, family disputes, and costly litigation.

A properly crafted living will, a health care power of attorney, and a durable power of attorney may minimize the existence or extent of these problems. Prior to meeting with an attorney for these documents, consider the persons you trust. Remember that a person who you trust to make your medical decisions may not be competent or trustworthy with money management, and vice versa. While meeting with an attorney, be prepared to consider options for difficult scenarios, Choose an attorney that will take the time to thoroughly explain these documents and potential scenarios, as well as allow you the days or weeks required to contemplate such difficult decisions.

Once you have created these documents with an estate attorney in Raleigh, NC, it’s important to periodically review your arrangements. In our next post, our attorney in Raleigh NC will talk about life events that could necessitate updates to your estate plan. If you have any questions regarding estate planning, living wills, or other things we’ve discussed in this post, contact us.

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