One of the primary reasons people wind up procrastinating with regard to creating an estate plan is because they feel as though they’re not going to become incapacitated or pass away any time soon. The truth of the matter is that if we lived in a world full of statistics they may have a point depending on their age. At the present time the average lifespan is 78.4 years in the United States, and people are living longer and longer all the time.
It would be very convenient if we knew in advance exactly when we were going to pass away, but unfortunately things don’t work that way. People of all ages are stricken by devastating illnesses each and every day, and of course accidents on the roadways are the leading killer of our youth. So estate and incapacity planning are not just for the elderly; they are essential for anyone who acknowledges that life is precious but death is inevitable, and when it will come cannot be predicted with any certainty.
With this in mind we would like to point out the importance of the execution of advance health care directives for all adults. The advance directives that are widely used are the living will and durable medical power of attorney, which is sometimes called a health care proxy. With a living will you state your medical preferences in writing with regard to things like life-support systems and whether or not you would like to be kept alive via the use of artificial means should you fall into a terminal condition at some point in time.
A durable medical power of attorney or health care proxy is used to appoint an individual of your choosing who is empowered to make medical choices for you should you be unable to do so for yourself in real-time. The reason why it could be a good idea to have both of these documents in place is because it is hard to cover every possibility in a single document such as a living will. Executing a health care proxy puts a decision-maker in place who can act with knowledge of your general viewpoint in instances that may not be specifically covered in the living will.