If you think that creating an estate plan in 2016 is something you want to do, you’ll need to know about medical directives. Also known as advance directive, health care directives, and by similar names, medical directives are estate planning tools that allow you to exert control over your health care options prior to you becoming incapacitated or otherwise unable to make or communicate your wishes. Medical directives form a vital element of any good estate plan, and you need to know what they are if you expect to get the most from your planning efforts.
Medical Directives: Representatives
One of the most important steps in creating medical directives in North Carolina involves selecting someone who will serve as your medical representative. In the even you lose capacity, your representative will communicate with your doctors, talk to them about your medical history and treatment options, and make health care decisions about the kind of care you should or should not receive.
In North Carolina, you choose your medical representative by creating a health care power of attorney. A power of attorney is a document through which you choose a person (known as your agent or attorney-in-fact) who has the right to make choices for you. A health care power of attorney, therefore, gives an agent the right to make health care choices on your behalf.
Medical Directives: Wishes
While having a representative who makes medical decisions for you is great, you can also let your doctors know what your medical wishes are by detailing your wishes in another medical directive; the advance directive for a natural death. Also called a living will, the advance directive for a natural death is a document in which you state what your wishes are, and more specifically, about whether you want to receive life-sustaining care in the event you are terminally ill or injured. Your directive can work together with your health care power of attorney, giving your agent clear instructions about the care you want, while also allowing that agent to make decisions that are not specifically covered by the directive itself.
Medical Directives: Discussions
Beyond creating the specific directives that will allow your wishes to be legally protected, part of creating an estate plan is having discussions about the important estate planning issues with your loved ones. Let’s say, for example, that you and your wife make medical directive. Your wife chooses you as her representative, but you choose your brother. Have you discussed your choices? Have you told each other what kind of care or treatment you want, or don’t? Does she expect to be named your representative, and will she be upset to learn that she isn’t?
Talking about it all so there are no surprises is essential if you want to make sure your plan protects both you and your family.
If you would like to talk to an attorney about your medical directives, please contact The Law Offices of Cheryl David at 336-547-9999 or visit our contact us page. One of our experienced estate planning attorneys will be happy to help you.