Your estate plan can do much more for you than simply ensure your estate assets are distributed according to your wishes after you are gone. In fact, a well thought out and properly drafted estate plan can also go a long way toward protecting you and your assets while you are alive. Furthermore, it can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment will also be honored using advance directives. The Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC explain why you need an advance directive in your estate plan.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to make your own end-of life wishes known in case you are unable to communicate those wishes at some later time and/or appoint someone to make decisions for you. State law dictates which type of advance directives are recognized in a particular state. In Vermont, the following types of advance directives are recognized:
- Appointment of a Health Care Agent. This allows you to appoint an Agent to make decisions about your medical care—including decisions about life sustaining treatments—if you can no longer speak for yourself.
- Treatment Limitations (Living Will). This is Vermont’s version of a Living Will. It lets you state your wishes about medical care if you are seriously ill or dying.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). Instructs emergency responders to not use lifesaving treatments or tools to resuscitate you if you are found, outside a medical facility, and you are not breathing.
Reasons to Create an Advance Directive
Hopefully you can see the benefit in executing at least one type of advance directive and incorporating it into your overall estate plan. If, however, you need additional incentive to get started on your advanced directives, consider the following reasons to execute one:
- Control over who makes decisions for you. In the absence of an advance directive, someone not of your choosing could end up making critical health care decisions for you.
- Preventing costly litigation. Without an advance directive in place, your loved ones could wind up in a costly – and ultimately divisive – court battle over the right to make health care decisions for you.
- Honoring your beliefs. If you have strong beliefs about receiving life sustaining medical care at the end of your life, the only way to ensure that those beliefs will be honored is to have an advance directive in place that legally requires them to be honored.
- Making things easier for loved ones. No matter how often you have discussed the matter, your close loved ones may genuinely not remember what your wishes are regarding end-of-life medical treatment given the stress they are under.
- Overriding well-meaning loved ones. If you do not wish to receive life sustaining treatment or care, your loved ones may not be capable of following those wishes because they do not want to let you go. In that case, only an advance directive can override their wishes.
Contact an Essex Junction Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you have questions or concerns about incorporating an advanced directive into your estate plan, contact an experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorney at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.