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End of life plans are part of your estate plans

Most people associate estate planning with naming heirs for their assets, but there is another facet that you need to think about when you are going through this process. You need to set up your end of life plans. These aspects of the estate plan go into effect if you aren't able to make decisions.

There are two primary concerns here. First, you must make plans for your finances. Second, you need to consider your medical care. The instructions you set for these are part of the power of attorney documents you establish, and you can set a living will for your health care.

Powers of attorney

You need two powers of attorney designations – one for each area. The individuals you name need to be able to act in your best interests. They should be able to make sound decisions that are in line with what you would do if you were still able to make those choices.

The financial power of attorney enables a person to pay your bills, make decisions about investments, and determine what happens to the real estate you own. Because of the scope of the choices they can make, it is imperative that you designate a person you fully trust.

The medical power of attorney gives the named individual permission to make decisions about your health care. This individual works with your medical care team to make choices about what types of treatments, tests and assistance you will receive.

Living will

Your living will is a place for you to outline specific information about your medical care. You can name things that you don't want to undergo, and you can list what you will accept. For example, if you want life-saving measures taken if you have a heart attack or a similar condition, you can state that. If you plan on donating your organs or tissues when you pass away, you can relay that.

You can discuss any aspect of medical care in the document. This includes primary care, such as the administration of antibiotics or intravenous nutrition. You can also think about what palliative care options you want and add these.

Your estate planning documents are only enforceable if they meet state requirements. Taking the time to set everything up properly benefits you now since you know your loved ones and medical team know your wishes. It also benefits your family members since the plan is already in place.

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