Berman & Asbel, LLP

Survey: Two-thirds of Adults Missing Critical Care Planning Tools

When people think about estate planning, they often do so in the context of finances. They think about who will get their house, how much the kids will inherit and how to minimize tax obligations.

While the financial element of estate planning is certainly critical, there are other elements that everyone should have, regardless of their financial status. Health care proxies and directives are among these non-financial elements. Unfortunately, studies show that only about one-third of adults in the U.S. have these pieces in place.

Why you should have an advance directive

An advance directive provides direction for what you do and do not want in terms of medical care. This can include use of ventilators, CPR, breathing machines and feeding tubes. You can also dictate where you want to spend your last days, how long loved ones should wait until stopping life-sustaining treatments and what you want in terms of quality of life.

Should you become incapacitated and unable to express your wishes, this document can provide critical instructions for what medical workers should and should not do.

Why you should have a health care proxy

A health care proxy makes decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. This person is able to select care options that are in line with your values, priorities and wishes.

Because of the role that your proxy will play, it is crucial to discuss your wishes in depth with that person. Explain what you want and the circumstances under which exceptions could be made. Having all this information can make it easier for your proxy to make decisions on your behalf with confidence.

Putting it all together

Having these non-financial elements of your estate plan in place can provide considerable relief and guidance for your loved ones. It allows them to feel more secure in the end-of-life decisions that must be made.

If you are part of the two-thirds of people who do not have these documents in place, you could be placing an enormous burden on your loved ones and leaving yourself open to treatment you do not want. To avoid this, you should talk to one of our estate planning attorneys about including these critical tools in your estate plan.

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