A comprehensive estate plan consists of a set of documents that address not only what will happen after your death but what will happen if certain events occur during your lifetime as well. The events that fall into this latter category will relate primarily to your physical and mental health. The relevant provisions of your estate plan will pertain primarily to your medical care and financial management in the event of incapacity.
What Estate Planning Documents are Used to Address Healthcare Decisionmaking in New Jersey?
When it comes to addressing your healthcare needs in the event of incapacity, there are two primary estate planning documents that you will want to consider. The first of these is a power of attorney for healthcare, referred to as a proxy directive. This document is used to designate someone else (typically a spouse or adult child, but there are also other options) to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot make decisions or communicate your wishes. When preparing your proxy directive, in addition to carefully choosing the person who will serve as your proxy, you will want to carefully consider the scope of authority you grant your proxy as well.
For any decisions that you do not want to leave to someone else, you can use the second primary document—the living will, referred to as an instruction directive. With an instruction directive, you provide specific guidance to your healthcare providers in advance. Generally, these estate planning documents are used to address circumstances in which life-saving or life-sustaining medical treatment becomes necessary due to an illness or injury.
What Other Healthcare-Related Considerations Should You Address in Your Estate Plan?
In addition to addressing your medical needs in the event of incapacity, there are various other healthcare-related aspects of estate planning. For example, when preparing your estate plan (or modifying your estate plan as you age), you will also want to consider issues such as:
- Financial Management in the Event of Incapacity – Just as you can appoint a loved one to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, you can also appoint a loved one to manage your finances should you become unable to do so. This is addressed through the preparation of a durable power of attorney.
- Long-Term Care Planning – Long-term care costs can be extraordinary, which means that planning ahead is essential. Through the use of Medicaid planning and other estate planning techniques, you can help ensure that your financial needs will be met without imposing a burden on your family.
- Guardianship – If you need help as you age, it will be necessary for someone you trust to have the legal authority to provide the level of care and support you require. Prospectively appointing a guardian is one option (among others) to address this important aspect of healthcare-related estate planning.
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Do you have questions about the healthcare aspects of estate planning in New Jersey? To discuss your needs with one of our experienced attorneys in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.