Estate planning attorney discussing trusts with older woman

The Importance of Advance Directives

Advance health care directives are an important part of a comprehensive estate plan that is strong in representing and protecting your best interests, as well as those of your loved ones. While it can be difficult to discuss your estate plans and how you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away, it can be even more difficult to confront the issues related to establishing advance health care directives. These directives are all about planning for incapacity and being unable to communicate your health care wishes and your end-of-life care preferences. While difficult to confront, it can be imperative that you take the step and put advance directives in place as soon as possible. You never really know what the future will bring and you are likely to find that putting these important legal tools in place will bring you more peace of mind than you may have anticipated at first.

The Importance of Advance Directives

In Pennsylvania, advance directives are legal documents that memorialize your medical care choices should you later become incapacitated and unable to communicate those wishes for yourself. Advance directives include a living will and a health care power of attorney. While these can be two different documents, they are often included in a single document in Pennsylvania.

A living will helps you preserve your right to direct your own medical care, which can prominently include the right to either accept or reject particular forms of medical treatment. You see, a living will sets forth your end-of-life treatment preferences should you be in a terminal state, but unable to communicate your health care treatment preferences for yourself. This means that your preferences will continue to be enforced despite your inability to speak to them for yourself. Furthermore, your loved ones will not be left with the stress of guessing as to what your wishes would have been. The uncertainty of what you would have wanted will be lifted from their shoulders. This is a gift to both yourself and to your loved ones as the time when such a decision is likely to be highly emotional, to say the least.

A durable health care power of attorney is also a valuable estate planning document that can be important to have in place. The durability feature of the health care power of attorney means that its authority remains intact even in the event that the principal, the person who established the document, becomes incapacitated. This is important because if the principal becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate health care preferences for themselves, the durable health care power of attorney appoints a person to make those choices on the principal’s behalf. This means that, through a health care power of attorney, you have the ability to select a trusted individual, a person who knows you and your preferences, to make critical health care decisions for you should you be unable to do so. Knowing someone you trust will take on this role if and when the need arises can bring a great sense of relief.

Pittsburgh Estate Planning Attorneys

In the face of an otherwise uncertain future, a comprehensive estate plan can bring a sense of control and peace of mind like few other things. Take the step to protecting your future by talking to the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace. Contact us today.