As we've discussed before, many people are reluctant to take the necessary steps to create a proper estate plan not because they are neglectful, but rather because they are reluctant to broach the always difficult topic of death.
As it turns out, many people are equally reluctant to take the necessary steps to create what is known as a health care directive. Here, however, this reluctance stems not just from a fear of addressing death, but also the possibility of debilitating illnesses or injuries.
While this is perfectly understandable, it's nevertheless extremely important to stop and consider all that can be accomplished with a legally binding document like a health care directive.
In general, a health care directive enables a person to set forth in writing the type of medical care they wish to receive in the event they become unable to communicate their wishes to medical professionals, as well as appoint an agent to make decisions on their behalf in the event of their incapacity.
The advantages of health care directives are numerous. Firstly, they grant a person peace of mind in knowing that their exact wishes will be honored such that no unnecessary care will be provided or no desired care overlooked. Secondly, they can grant a family peace of mind, as they will know exactly how to proceed and enable them to avoid unnecessary conflicts during already difficult times.
Of course, failing to execute a health care directive can mean that you not only receive undesired medical care, but that your loved ones have to take drastic -- and perhaps even costly steps -- to protect your interests such as going to court to secure a conservatorship or guardianship.
In a future estate planning post, we'll take a closer look at some basic information about health care directives here in Minnesota. In the meantime, please visit our website to learn more.