When we think about estate planning, we tend to think of it as an activity for people who are older. We think trusts and wills are for people who have accumulated assets and reached a certain stage in their life when they need to think about what should be done with those assets. While this reasoning is not entirely true, there’s one aspect of estate planning that is useful regardless of age – advance directives.
What is an advance directive?
We make our own decisions about our health care. What care we receive, when we receive it and who we receive it from. But what happens if you become incapacitated and are unable to make the decision yourself? Perhaps you’re in a car accident, injured badly, and choices must be made? An advance directive is your way of making those decisions in advance, so that whatever is done aligns with your wishes and personal beliefs.
Appoint a healthcare agent
One thing you can decide, in advance, is to allow someone else to make decisions in your stead. You can appoint a family member or close friend to make choices for you, when you are unable to do so yourself. This gives you the opportunity to talk to the person before anything happens, so that they know what you would want, or not want, under different circumstances.
Express your specific wishes
You can also make clear your intentions in an advance directive, listing different treatments or procedures you do, or do not, want to receive. This can cover things like CPR and life support or medications and feeding tubes. Different people feel differently about the extent to which they wish to have their lives preserved and an advance directive allows you to express your personal feelings.
Accidents or sudden illnesses can strike anyone at any time. Speak to a professional who is experienced in Maryland estate planning – they can help you prepare should the worst happen to you.