Estate planning isn’t just about directing what happens with your assets after you die. It’s also about protecting your future. One important part of any estate plan is a health care directive.
Having a health care directive in place is one of the best things you can do to make sure that your wishes regarding medical treatment are known — even if you can’t express them. Having one in place can also give your relatives peace of mind since they won’t have to guess about your preferences.
What is a health care directive?
A health care directive is a legal document that specifies actions that should be taken regarding your medical treatment if you are not able to make decisions for yourself. That could happen, for example, after a serious car accident or due to a sudden illness.
When composing your health care directive, remember these three tips:
- You need to be specific. Your instructions need to be clear on how you want things done. Avoid ambiguity since it may lead to confusion and delay arriving at some decisions.
- Communicate your desires effectively. You need to align everyone with your decisions; close family members and the designated person. It is also advisable to discuss your intentions with your doctor or health care provider. That way, you will know what to expect and decide beforehand.
- Ensure any updates to your directives are validated. If you change your mind at any time, you need to make sure that your updates to the directives are witnessed and signed by a notary as required by Wahington law.
The bottom line about health care directives
Even with a sound health care directive in place, you should explore the use of a power of attorney to handle your medical decisions (in alignment with your health care directive) and financial matters if you become incapacitated. You should also have a will in place, and you may even want to consider a trust. There are many different estate planning options to explore.