Living Will/Healthcare Directive: Are You a Responsible Adult?

Living Will/Healthcare Directive

Growing up means making responsible decisions — like planning for retirement, budgeting your time and money, and protecting your future. Unfortunately, far too many adults are not thinking about their estate. According to recent polls, only 45% of adult Americans have a Will and even fewer (only 35%) have a Living Will/Healthcare Directive.

Having a well-drafted estate plan can help ensure financial security for yourself and your loved ones. If you die without a valid Will, your estate will be distributed based on the laws of intestacy, which may not be what you want. Having a carefully drafted Will allows a person to dictate how their assets will be distributed after their death, name an executor to handle their estate, allows a parent to name a guardian for their minor children, and direct who will manage their children’s assets.

In addition to a Will, a complete estate plan also includes a Power of Attorney for Assets, and a Living Will/Healthcare Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney for Assets allows a person to appoint an Agent to act on their behalf in financial and legal matters. A Living Will/Healthcare Directive sets forth the individuals health care wishes and appoints an agent to interact with medical professionals should they become unable to make their own medical decisions.

When a person is unexpectedly injured and unable to make financial and medical decisions without a valid Power of Attorney and Living Will, their loved ones may be forced to file a costly guardianship action with the Court to gain the legal authority to make decisions and act on their behalf.

When contemplating an estate plan, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney who can analyze your financial situation, discuss tax implications and effectively draft documents that are best suited for your individual needs and wishes. (July 7, 2016)