Planning for incapacity is easy to put off, but important to address. If you lose the ability to decide medical care issues on your own because of illness, accident or age, having the appropriate legal documents in place allows someone you trust to make those decisions on your behalf. If you don’t make medical care arrangements in advance, then estranged family members, doctors, or judges may have to make the decisions for you.
Medical Power of Attorney and/or Living Will
First, you should have a Medical Power of Attorney appointing someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This person is your agent and legally must act according to your wishes. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend. In Colorado, your agent must be at least 21. The agent should be someone you trust, and you should talk to them about your wishes so they can act consistently. Your power of attorney can be structured to transfer authority to your agent only if you become incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
Second, you should consider whether to have a Living Will. A Living Will is a directive to medical professionals regarding whether you wish to have life-sustaining treatment. Living Wills are different than Medical Powers of Attorney because they just address life-sustaining treatment and are a directive to medical professionals rather than to your agent.
Your Agent is important
Your agent is a very important person and should be selected carefully. Spend time thinking about who you can trust and depend on to ensure that your medical wishes are implemented. Your agent will have to assert your health care wishes even though others may oppose them. Who will best represent and assert your wishes?
At Whitcomb, Selinksy, PC we understand how important medical needs planning is and the importance of putting an estate plan in place. If you are looking for an estate planning attorney in Denver, call for a free consultation.