Medical instructions can be key to successful estate planning

A lot of estate planning is focused on the distribution of wealth upon an individual's passing. While this is certainly an important aspect of the estate planning process, it is only a portion of what should be a comprehensive estate planning approach.

Another critical piece of estate planning involves one's health care, primarily in the event that he or she suddenly becomes incapacitated. In these instances, an individual will be unable to make decisions, which is why he or she may want to name someone to make those decisions on his or her behalf, or lay out special instructions about the type of medical care he or she wants to receive.

These matters can be addressed through an advance health care directive, which is also known as a living wiil. Through this document, an agent can be named to make medical-related decisions for an individual in the event that he or she is unable to do so.

Yet, specific instructions can be given, too. For example, while medical professionals will typically try to revive those who have stopped breathing or whose hearts have stopped beating, individuals who want to forego those efforts can specify their desire through a do not resuscitate order.

The instructions given in a living will can be quite detailed to fit an individual's needs. For example, he or she can specify if and for how long he or she wants to be fed through a tube, should that become a necessary part of his or her treatment. The same holds true for ventilation. An individual can even specify in his or her living will what is to be done with his or her organs and tissue upon passing.

These are delicate issues that are often difficult to think about. Yet, most Californians who develop a living will find that their minds are put at ease knowing exactly how their medical care will be handled in the event that they are unable to decide for themselves. To ensure that the instructions contained in a living will are clear, though, Californians may want to draft them with the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney.

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