Adults of all ages and personal circumstances can benefit from developing an estate plan. Those who recently got married or divorced, those planning to have children and even those who have acquired property like a home or a business may feel strongly about having an estate plan on record to provide for their loved ones and distribute their assets if they die.
Estate plans in Minnesota can also include living documents, including advance directives. Those who add documents that may take effect while they are still alive to their estate plans can benefit from certain protections in the event of medical emergencies, like a stroke or a car crash that puts them in a coma.
Powers of Attorney
There are typically two scenarios in which an individual may require someone else to act on their behalf. Those who become incapacitated due to a medical emergency may need support while they are in the hospital and unconscious or unable to communicate on their own behalf. Occasionally older adults will experience cognitive decline as they age and will no longer be able to handle their own affairs. Both in scenarios involving a loss of capacity and temporary incapacity, powers of attorney give someone control over who provides them with support. Financial and medical powers of attorney can name a specific agent to manage someone’s finances or healthcare choices when they cannot manage their own affairs.
Granting someone the authority to make medical decisions is a valuable move, but the person named as someone’s agent may experience intense inner conflict if they don’t know what actions to take on behalf of the incapacitated person. A living will provide clear instructions about someone’s medical wishes. Some people talk about narcotic pain relief and life support. Others name specific care providers or facilities that they prefer. Living wills can’t even provide clear guidance on anatomical gifts, which can be a source of moral struggle for someone unexpectedly stepping into the role where they must make medical choices on behalf of someone they love.
Those who take the time to put paperwork in place in case of a medical emergency can enjoy enhanced peace of mind regardless of what happens to them, as the people that they know and trust will have the authority to act on their behalf and the information needed to honor their wishes.