What Is an End-of-Life Plan?
An end-of-life plan is part of an estate plan. It’s a document that formally makes your instructions and wishes known if you can no longer decide or communicate care decisions for yourself. An end-of-life plan will expressly document your care preferences, including the following:
- Medical interventions or life-saving measures
- When you want such measures to be taken
- When you might want life-sustaining care to stop in favor of palliative care so that you can spend your final days in comfort
How Important Is It to Have an End-of-Life Plan?
While thinking about the end of your life is difficult for most people, those who take the time to establish an end-of-life plan often experience emotional relief. Many people who engage in end-of-life planning do it not for themselves but for their loved ones. No one wants to leave family members with difficult decisions about end-of-life care, especially where different family members may have different opinions.
Having an end-of-life plan also means that you can maintain control over your life even at the end when you may not have the physical or cognitive ability to communicate your preferences. If you have been diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness, setting up an end-of-life plan can help you regain a sense of control or normalcy.
The estate attorneys at Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP recognize the importance of end-of-life planning, and we’re here to help you have the peace of mind that your affairs are in order if the time may come.
Most Important End-of-Life Planning Documents You Need
Documents that typically make up an end-of-life plan include the following:
- Living will – Also called a healthcare directive, a living will allows you to outline all of your wishes regarding your end-of-life care. It outlines instructions regarding potential types of medical treatment or care you may need, such as life support, resuscitation, medications, and pain management.
- Healthcare power of attorney – Also called a healthcare proxy, a healthcare power of attorney allows you to designate a person you trust to make medical care decisions for you if you become incapacitated and cannot make them for yourself. The person you choose for your healthcare power of attorney will have the authority to provide consent for medical treatments to be performed or administered to you.
- Medical information release – This document authorizes your medical providers to communicate your medical information to those responsible for making healthcare decisions at the end of your life.
- Durable power of attorney – Similar to the healthcare power of attorney, a durable power of attorney allows you to authorize someone to handle your financial and legal affairs on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.
- Letter of competency – To ensure that your end-of-care and estate plans are respected and enforced, you might consider working with a doctor. They can draft a letter stating their medical opinion that you possessed the legal capacity to draft and execute your end-of-life and estate planning documents. This can help prevent family disputes over whether you “were in the right mind” or were improperly influenced to sign documents.
- Letter of intent – Although not a legally binding document, a letter of intent allows you to communicate personal end-of-life decisions and information to your family members. A letter of intent can allow you to explain your reasoning for why you structured your estate plan in the way you did. The letter can also let you inform your family members about your preferences regarding funeral and burial arrangements, care instructions for pets, and the location of your important financial and legal documents.
When preparing an end-of-life plan, you should also ensure that you have an estate plan in place that works in conjunction with your end-of-life plan. An estate plan will typically include a last will and testament that directs how your assets should be distributed after your death. Estate planning also often involves setting up trusts to help ensure that your wealth continues to provide for your loved ones. You may also make beneficiary designations so your financial accounts and assets quickly pass to the people you wish to give them to.
Talk to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Manhattan Today
You should prepare for the possibility that you may no longer be able to make end-of-life care decisions for yourself at some point. Make sure that your loved ones know your preferences and instructions so you can still be in control of your life. Contact the Manhattan estate planning attorneys of Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP today for a free, confidential consultation to learn how we can help you prepare an end-of-life plan.