For people who reach age 65, the odds of needing long-term care benefits during their lifetime are nearly 70 percent. People are living longer and in turn needing care in their old age. On average men require 2.2 years worth of care and women require 3.7 years. Preparing for this level of care and any other type of medical care you may receive requires forethought and careful planning.
Appointing a Health Care Agent
We’ve previously discussed in this blog New York’s Family Health Care Decisions Act and the appointment of a patient’s family member or close friend to act as a surrogate decision maker for a patient who has become incapacitated. This act allows close relatives to make decisions even if the patient had never given them decision making power.
In order for your wishes to be carried out, you should have a Health Care Power of Attorney. This document allows you to appoint an agent you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated. This agent will be charged with making decisions that are in line with your express wishes. This person should be someone you completely trust who will abide by your wishes.
Advanced Health Care Directives
Advanced health care directives or living wills allow you to leave specific instructions regarding your medical care. This document gives guidelines as to the type and extent of care you wish to receive in your incapacitated state. If you are unable to communicate, your wishes can still be expressed via this set of written instruction. This document can be as general or specific as you wish. Questions you may consider answering in your health care directive include:
- Do I wish to be kept alive by artificial means?
- At what point should my comfort be the focus of all care?
- Would I ever want to be a part of hospice care?
- Do I want to become an organ donor?
- What if it becomes necessary to make other living arrangements?
Making Your Wishes Known
Health care is an important part of estate planning. Your medical wishes should be made known. Your family and friends need to know the specifics of your wishes in order to be able to carry them out. By having open and honest conversations with loved ones, you can bring clarity and understanding to an otherwise terrifying and confusing situation.
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