Degenerative neurological conditions, traumatic brain injuries and other medical conditions can all damage your mental faculties. You hope that this will never happen, but if it does, you may no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions regarding health care and finances.
It is a good idea to anticipate the possibility of incapacitation and prepare for it as part of your estate plan. The following designations and documents can allow you to express what you want to happen should the unfortunate circumstance occur.
According to U.S. News and World Report, a living will is a legal document that allows you to outline the treatments you wish to receive if you are ever unable to make your own health care decisions due to incapacitation. Another name for it is an advance health care directive. It also allows you to exclude any treatments that you do not want to receive. This can be very helpful if you do not want the doctors to keep you alive if there is no hope of recovery. Doctors have an ethical obligation to honor the wishes you have expressed in your living will.
Health care proxy
While a living will can be very valuable, it is impossible for you to anticipate every possible scenario that could arise during the course of your health care. Therefore, it is also helpful to name a health care proxy. This person has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. However, even a health care proxy cannot override your living will.
Most American adults do not have plans for incapacitation in place. However, it is a good idea for you to create one as soon as possible because incapacitation can strike without warning.