When creating an estate plan, there are common mistakes that can leave an individual and their family open to unnecessary conflict and pain at a later date. Most of them can be summed up by saying that many make the mistake of not including all the necessary documents or deciding that certain documents that they feel are not currently relevant can be added at a later date. These sometimes excluded elements of estate plans are too often necessary health care provisions.
The time to establish health care provisions is right now; when you don’t have any worries about your health. An estate plan ensures that your estate’s assets pass to your heirs according to your own intentions and desires, but it does more than that. Including health care provisions means you clearly indicate what treatments you do or do not want in certain situations, when family members (and which family members) should be allowed to make decisions on your behalf and offer access to funds to specified individuals in order to cover needed medical care if you are unable to handle it on your own.
3 Healthcare Provisions to Include in Your Estate Plan:
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Revocable Living Trust
A medical power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual to make important healthcare-related decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. When choosing who to designate in your medical power of attorney, choose someone who is likely to choose a course of treatment that you would approve of. It is a good idea to name a secondary agent in case the first is not available when the need arises. A medical power of attorney should be accompanied by a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release so your representative will have access to your medical history to support their decision-making process.
A living will allows you to designate in detail what types of medical treatment you do and do not want in specific situations in case you aren’t able to express yourself clearly when the time for a decision arrives.
A revocable living trust is one of the most common types of trusts used in estate planning. They are fully revocable at your request. This means that assets in the trust remain within your control. If you become incapacitated, the trust has an alternate trustee (designated by you in advance). This type of trust is an excellent choice for individuals who are seeking health care planning as the funds contained in the trust can be used to cover medical costs if necessary.
If you need more information about estate planning or if you need to update your estate plan with health care provisions, please get in touch with one of the experienced California estate planning attorneys at The Law Office of Janet L. Brewer.