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How can you plan for medical care if you become incapacitated?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2024 | Estate planning

Planning for medical decisions and care in the event of incapacity is critical to a comprehensive estate plan. It allows individuals to express their wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care in advance.

Anyone creating their estate plan should ensure that their preferences are respected even if they can’t communicate them due to incapacitation. There are several key documents and considerations that Louisiana residents should be aware of when incorporating medical decision planning into their estate plans.

A multifaceted approach is vital

The first step in this process is understanding the different legal tools available to outline healthcare wishes and appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf. These include durable powers of attorney for healthcare, living wills and healthcare directives. Each of these serves a specific purpose and helps in healthcare decision-making.

Durable power of attorney for healthcare

A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document. It allows an individual known as the principal to designate another person known as the agent to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so.

This document is crucial as it ensures that someone the principal trusts is making decisions about their medical treatment. The appointed agent can make decisions about medical care, including treatment options and end-of-life care, reflecting the principal’s preferences.

Living wills and healthcare directives

A living will is another important document in planning for incapacity. It’s a written statement that details a person’s desires regarding medical treatment in situations where they can no longer express informed consent. In Louisiana, a living will can include wishes about life-sustaining treatments, such as resuscitation, mechanical ventilation artificial nutrition and hydration.

Healthcare directives are broader and can encompass a variety of instructions for future medical care, not just end-of-life decisions. These documents guide healthcare providers and family members about the individual’s medical care preferences.

Regular review and updates

It’s essential to regularly review and update these documents to ensure they continue to reflect their current wishes and medical preferences. Changes in health status, personal beliefs or family circumstances can all warrant updates to an estate plan.

Seeking legal assistance is beneficial in the initial creation of these documents and any necessary updates. Otherwise, all the effort that someone puts into estate planning could be undermined for a host of otherwise preventable reasons.