Over the course of a single week, you make thousands of decisions. Some of those decisions are relatively unimportant while others may have a significant impact on your life. Either way, you probably take the ability to make those decisions for yourself for granted – most of us do. What would happen, however, if you were unable to make decisions for yourself one day because of your own incapacity? Chances are good you would prefer to make as many of those decisions ahead of time as possible. You might also want the ability to decide for yourself who will make decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
Why You Need to Plan for Incapacity
When you think about the possibility of your own incapacity, you probably focus on one day developing Alzheimer’s or another age-related condition during your senior years. Although Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related conditions certainly can cause incapacity, the possibility of becoming incapacitated is not limited to the elderly. A catastrophic car accident, a debilitating illness, or a serious workplace injury could render you incapacitated tomorrow. In fact, just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. Whether incapacity strikes when you are 25 or 85, consider the following questions:
- Who would have the legal authority to make healthcare related decisions for you?
- Does that person know what your wishes would be regarding medical care, specifically end of life treatment?
- How can you ensure that your wishes regarding end-of-life treatment will be honored?
What Is an Advanced Directive and How Can It Help?
An advanced directive is a legal document that allows you to make healthcare-related decisions now in the event you cannot make them for yourself later. Each state decides what type of advanced directives will be recognized and what language must be included and/or procedures followed during execution, for an advanced directive to be honored when the time comes. In the State of Arkansas, the following advanced directives are recognized:
- Appointment of Health Care Agent. This advanced directive lets you name an adult to be your healthcare agent. That person will have the legal authority to make decisions about your healthcare, including decisions about life-sustaining treatments if you can no longer make them yourself.
- Advance Care Plan. This is Arkansas’s version of a “Living Will.” This advanced directive allows you to express your wishes regarding healthcare decisions that may need to be made if you have a terminal illness, are incapacitated, or are otherwise unable to express your wishes.
Knowing that you have already made important healthcare decisions for yourself and that those decisions must be honored by law can provide you with peace of mind. To ensure that your advanced directive(s) include the required language and are executed properly, be sure to work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.
Contact a Fayetteville Estate Planning Attorney
For additional information, please sign up for one of our FREE estate planning webinars. If you have additional questions or concerns about advanced directives, or you are ready to incorporate one into your estate plan, contact an experienced Fayetteville estate planning attorney at Wilcox Attorneys, PA by calling 479-443-0062 to schedule your appointment today.