It is shockingly easy for typically responsible adults to be irresponsible when it comes to planning their estates. Many people dislike thinking about what happens when they die, so they may avoid estate planning when they should have documents for their own protection or they rush through the process and don’t create a thorough estate plan.
If you don’t already have an estate plan or if your estate plan consists solely of a will, it may be time to think about what happens if you die and also if you have a medical emergency. Even healthy people could end up incapacitated because of a job injury or car crash. Advance directives are a key form of protection in the event of an incapacitating medical experience.
North Carolina recognizes several kinds of advanced directives
You can fill out certain advance directives and file them with the state to retain control over what sort of health care you receive when you are unconscious or lack testamentary capacity.
One of the most common advanced directives is the healthcare power of attorney. In this document, you grant another adult the authority to make decisions about your treatment. You can also leave directives talking about the kind of healthcare you receive.
You can file a declaration of a desire for a natural death, preventing intensive or heroic resuscitation efforts in a medical emergency. You can provide an advance directive talking about mental health treatment. Finally, you can also file a declaration about your intention to leave an anatomical gift.
Rather than leaving these choices to your loved ones or relying on the best practices established by the facilities providing your medical care, it is often a better choice to assume control over the situation and create documents that clarify your wishes.
Casual conversations often aren’t enough
If your spouse or children have to adjust to the shocking news that you have been left unconscious by a sudden accident, they may not be able to recall during that stressful time what wishes you previously expressed.
Just talking with your family members about your medical preferences will not be enough to ensure they know what to do in an emergency. Not only could they have a hard time remembering, but they could also experience the same car crash or emergency that you do, leaving them unable to communicate on your behalf.
Engaging in advance planning will help you take the pressure off of your loved ones and retain control over your medical care regardless of what the future holds.