While doing your long-term care planning and medical planning, it’s important to know exactly what documents you can use to reinforce your wishes. You must do more than just tell family members what you want. To really be prepared, get it in writing.
Below are three different documents you can use.
1. A health care power of attorney
This gives another person the ability to make your medical decisions when you can’t. For instance, perhaps you want your oldest child to be in charge, or maybe you just want to name your spouse. When physical or mental ailments mean you can’t make your own choices, you know someone with your best interests in mind will be doing it.
2. A living will
This tells both your family and medical professionals what types of treatments you want or do not want. For instance, your living will could specify whether or not you want to be kept alive if the only way to do so is to use life support.
3. A letter of instruction
This letter just addresses any special plans or concerns you have that don’t fit neatly in the other documents. For example, if you pass away, you may want to leave behind a list of people your heirs should call. They may only think of family members, and that’s a good place to begin, but you may also want them to tell people like your insurance agent or your boss.
It’s best to do your long-term care planning well in advance. Even if you think you won’t need it for years or decades, be sure you know what legal steps to take.
Source: AARP, “Legal Documents You Need Now!” accessed Nov. 8, 2017