Whether 80 or 18, every adult should have a document called an advance directive, which outlines what you would want done for you medically under certain circumstances, according to attorney Greg Bonney, whose practice includes estate planning. Ideally, you appoint someone as your health care power of attorney to make these medical decisions for you.
Sometimes called a living will, this document describes your wishes if you can no longer sufficiently analyze medical options and make your own medical decisions. That document allows you to express your wishes regarding the use of life-prolonging treatments, a feeding tube, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other medical procedures.
Along with that document, Bonney recommends three others:
- A durable power of attorney designating someone to handle your finances if you can no longer do so.
- An estate plan that describes how your money, investments and property are to be distributed upon your death.
- A document outlining your wishes for final disposition of your body upon death, such as where you would want to be buried or if you would prefer cremation.
"It is important to get something in writing if you want to leave something special to a person or if there is a child or other relative with special needs," Bonney said. "Also, if you want certain items to go to charity, you can set that up in your estate plan."
The best way to approach life and estate planning is to specify your wishes in writing, according to Bonney. "It might help motivate your parents to do some estate planning if you can tell them you and your spouse have set up a will and advance directive and found the process to be helpful and painless."
Information provided by Greg Bonney, estate planning attorney in La Crosse WI. For estate planning help, call him at 608-784-5678.