Your estate plan should do far more than simply provide a roadmap for the distribution of your assets when you die. Ideally, your estate plan will help protect and grow your assets while you are alive as well as protect you and your loved ones while you are still here. One way to do that is to include an Advanced Directive in your plan. If your current estate plan does not include one, you may be wondering “Do you need an Advanced Directive in your estate plan?” The simple answer is that everyone can benefit from including one, or more, Advanced Directive in their estate plan.
Advanced Directives are legal documents that allow you to make important healthcare related decisions now in case you are unable to make them at some point in the future. They can also permit you to appoint someone who will have the authority to make decisions for you. Each state decides which Advanced Directives it will recognize and honor as well as what language must be included in the document for the Advanced Directive to be valid. In the State of Missouri, the following Advanced Directives are recognized:
- ·Health Care Choices Directive – this document is similar to what people commonly refer to as a “Living Will.” You have the ability to express your wishes with regard to specific treatments you wish to refuse or have withdrawn in the event you are suffering from a terminal illness or are persistently unconscious at some point in the future. For example, you have the ability to refuse, or order withdrawn, things that include, but are not limited to, dialysis, CPR, invasive surgery, artificially supplied nutrition and hydration, and/or a respirator. With this Advanced Directive you may also choose to be an organ donor, or explicitly decline being one. Finally, you can include any other specific directions with regard to your healthcare that are important to you should you one day suffer from a terminal illness or be persistently unconscious.
Just as you make important healthcare related decisions throughout your lifetime, executing an Advanced Directive allows you to effectively continue to make those decisions even when you are unable to verbally communicate them to loved ones and providers.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Missouri Advanced Directives, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.