Health Care Directives: What You (And Your Loved Ones) Need To Know

Health Care DirectivesBy Rob Wiegland, Staff Writer

Health Care Directives are crucial to sound estate planning, for the basic reason that these documents name the agent who is authorized to make end-of-life and other health related decisions on your behalf in the event that you become unable to do so. Without a health directive in place, all of your careful planning could fall by the wayside since no one, in the eyes of the law, is allowed to make these types of decisions for someone who is legally an adult without the authorization of a health directive. This means that your family will face potentially lengthy court battles, and mental anguish-particularly if they are not all in unanimous agreement as to which medical decisions should be made for you.

California Residents and the Advanced Health Care Directive

California residents can elect to include an advanced health care directive in their basic living trust, which allows them to name a health care agent, and alternate agents, who can make decisions on your behalf without any court proceedings. In addition, you are allowed to leave specific requests and instructions for doctors regarding healthcare decisions, quality-of-life issues, and the use of artificial life-sustaining apparatus.

Ensure Your Security with a Health Care Directive

If the tragic case of Terri Schiavo taught us anything, it is that health care directives should be in place for all individuals, regardless of their state of health. The sad fact is that most of us know a family who has dealt with the issues of coping with medical decisions for someone else when no health care directive has been put in place. Issues like these, particularly when artificial life-sustaining measures are involved, can divide families and cause heartache and pain for everyone involved. You have already (or are in the process of) taken steps to ensure your continuing financial security, why should you leave the fate of your health to chance? Talk to your certified financial planner today to find out how you can add a health care directive, or advanced health care directive, to your living trust.