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Living wills and powers of attorney for healthcare

Most Ohio residents who think of estate planning think of taking the steps necessary so that, when they pass away, they have preserved their wealth for their loved ones. While this is certainly a big part of estate planning, it is not the only consideration that must be made. There may come a time when one is suddenly unable to make important healthcare and financial decisions, including those related to estate planning, due to their condition. When this happens, they may want to make sure that their affairs are left to someone they trust.

One way to protect oneself and assets is to create a living will and a power of attorney. Through a living will, one can dictate the type of care they want in the event that they cannot make that decision on their own and cannot communicate it to others. This part of an estate plan and can be as detailed as one wants, but one may also want to create a power of attorneys so that their wishes can be properly effectuated.

While a living will spells out how one wants to be cared for in the event of incapacitation, a power of attorney names an agent who will make healthcare decisions. Therefore, if issues arise and a living will is unclear, the matter will be left in the agent's hands. This is why one needs to be careful about who is chosen to serve in those role. While it could be a family member, think twice before making this decision, as putting one family member in control of one's health could create disagreement and long-term conflict amongst family members.

The power of attorney mentioned above only focuses on one related to healthcare. In a future post, we will discuss financial powers of attorney, which allow an individual to make important financial decisions while incapacitated. Clearly, these matters carry a lot of importance. Therefore, everyone should discuss them with an attorney they trust before proceeding with them.

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