You may have always been clear with your family about your wishes in the case of incapacitation or death, but that doesn’t mean that your wishes will be carried out. Unfortunately, unless you put legal protections in place, what you want and expect may not come to fruition.
Why? Without legal requirements, people aren’t guaranteed to respect your wishes. Even though it’s respectful to listen to what you wanted and to make decisions based on those wishes, the reality is that people, when given time to think about what they need and want, may stray from what you asked for.
How can you be sure your wishes will be known (and respected)?
If you want to be sure that your wishes will be known and respected, then you should make certain that they’re written down in your estate plan. Your will, at its core, is a simple, binding legal document that allows you to discuss what you want in no uncertain terms. It states important wishes, such as:
- How you want your property to be distributed
- Who you’d like to take over guardianship of your children
- How you want your money handled if you pass away
You may also want to put an advance care directive into place. This is a legal document that specifies the medical treatment that you’d like if you are incapacitated and can’t make the decision for yourself.
A third option is to set up a health care power of attorney, which appoints a person as your agent. This agent can then make medical decisions on your behalf. If there is someone who you know will carry out your wishes even in the darkest circumstances, then that’s who you should consider for that role.
Your wishes matter, but don’t assume others will remember
These are three of the documents that give you power to state your wishes and have them carried out. It’s also in your benefit to talk to your family about what you want and to make sure that they understand your wishes if you happen to fall ill, become incapacitated or pass away.