January is a month of renewal and new beginnings. Many folks (myself included) make resolutions to become an improved version of ourselves. I think New Year’s resolutions are good for the soul – they help us to imagine what we can do now to make life better – but they are more productive if you can keep them.
Earlier this month, I heard a story on the radio that posed a surprisingly profound question for a short segment: What makes life worth living for you? The reporter highlighted a website launched by the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington State Hospital Association aimed at prompting people to begin conversations about what they want their end-of-life medical care to look like. As the website notes, while 70 percent of people say they want to die at home, 70 percent of people actually die in long-term care. The website is aimed at closing this gap.
How does this fit in with estate planning?
Stacey recently wrote about resolving to get your estate planning in order. One document you should be executing as part of your estate plan is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. This document appoints a fiduciary – called an Attorney-in-Fact – to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. It also sets forth details, per your wishes, about the authority given to the Attorney-in-Fact, including the level of access to your private health care information.
Having a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is only the first step. To equip your Attorney-in-Fact to do the best job possible, you need to have the difficult conversation about what you want end-of-life care to look like with your Attorney-in-Fact. And you should have this conversation while you are still healthy.
Will you resolve to complete this work and have the difficult conversations in 2015, so you can be more confident about how your health care needs will be addressed?
Photo: Heinrich-Boll-Stiflung on Flickr
This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.