Have you ever wondered who amongst your friends and relatives is best suited for making necessary medical and financial decisions on your behalf in the event of a crisis? You may have a big circle of friends and loving family members around you, but who amongst them would you want making medical and financial decisions on your behalf should you be unable?
While we cannot predict the future, preparing for unexpected events that may occur as we go through life is essential. You want to ensure the people making important decisions determines the medical treatment, financial decisions, and personal preferences should anything happen to you.
Finding a life partner is a significant milestone in one’s life. A solid, meaningful relationship will face unexpected medical emergencies or illnesses. During an emergency or illness, your loved ones may have questions about your medical treatment, and they might be unable to answer them.
By having the essential legal documents in place, you will be allowing your loved ones the ability to process emotions rather than trying to determine and argue over decisions should the situation arise. However, if you are in a committed relationship with a partner, you want to ensure that they are the ones making the fundamental decisions on your behalf. This is where power of attorney, health care proxy, and advance directives come into play.
Here we’ll explore these legal documents, why they’re essential for life partners, and how you can make sure your wishes are known and respected. Let’s start with the Advance Directives.
What are Advance Directives?
Advance directives are legal papers that allow you to communicate your end-of-life wishes and preferences. These include life-sustaining treatment preferences, organ donation, and funeral arrangements. By creating an advance directive, you can ensure that your wishes are known and respected, even if you cannot communicate them yourself. Advance directives can be essential for life partners, allowing them to make informed decisions that reflect your values and preferences. Part of the Advanced Directive is a Living Will.
What is a Living Will:
A Living Will, also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive, is a legal document that outlines a person’s preferences for medical treatment. It also states end-of-life care if people cannot communicate their wishes themselves.
It typically includes instructions about medical treatments the person does or does not want to receive. Treatment may consist of, i.e. life-sustaining treatment, organ donation, and palliative care. It may also include preferences for spiritual or religious practices, such as receiving the last rights of a particular faith.
A living will is essential because it allows individuals to have some control over their medical care. It also ensures that their wishes are respected if they are incapacitated and unable to communicate. Again, it can also relieve the burden of decision-making from family members or loved ones, who may otherwise be unsure of what to do in such a situation.
Advanced Directives can be filled out at a physician’s office, but I’ll include a link below that you can access a very easy to understand template. Make sure to discuss wishes with family members and loved ones. Be sure to give copies of the living will to healthcare providers if they don’t have it already to ensure everyone knows wishes are known and followed.
A Durable POA
A durable power of attorney (POW) is a legal paper that grants someone else the authority to act on your behalf in certain situations. This legal document is utilized when you become incapacitated to make decisions for yourself.
The term “durable” means that a power of attorney has power over both medical and financial decisions, should you be unable to decide for yourself. This is important because if you become incapacitated and do not have a durable power of attorney, your family and loved ones may need to court to obtain the legal authority to decide on your behalf.
A power of attorney can be limited or general, depending on your needs. For example, you can give your partner the ability to make financial decisions for you, such as paying bills or managing investments. Or you can give them just the power to make healthcare decisions, such as consenting to medical treatments or choosing a healthcare provider. You want to make sure these two get along.
It’s essential to choose somebody or people you trust to act in your best interests and who understands your wishes and preferences, which is your life partner in most cases. You should also discuss your wishes with them and other loved ones in advance, so everyone is on the same page.
This durable power of attorney is essential for ensuring that your wishes are carried out, even if you cannot make decisions. However, consulting with an attorney or other legal professional is necessary to ensure that the document is properly drafted and executed in accordance with the laws in your jurisdiction.
Health Care Proxy
A healthcare proxy is a legal paper that designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. This can include decisions about medical treatments, surgeries, and end-of-life care. When you appoint a healthcare proxy, you can specify your preferences and wishes, which must be followed. Selecting your life partner as your healthcare proxy ensures that they have the legal authority to make critical medical decisions based on your wishes and values.
Why Is Advanced Care Planning Important?
Advanced care planning is not only for the elderly or seriously ill. It’s for all us to ensure that their wishes are known and respected should the unexpected happen.
A sudden illness, injury, or decline in health can happen to any of us. In such situations, prior planning is necessary for doctors and family members to be sure about what they want, leading to conflict, confusion, and unwanted medical interventions.
By engaging in advanced care planning, you can ensure that your wishes are known and respected and that you receive the care and treatment that aligns with your values, beliefs, and preferences. This can bring you and your loved ones peace of mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and help to avoid unnecessary suffering and discomfort.
By taking the time to plan in advance, allows those caring for the one in need the time and space to process what’s happening emotionally when faced with serious situations.
How to get started with health care planning?
Talk to your physician. You can fill out a form in any doctor’s office. There is also a link below that will take you through some questions to help you fill out the form easily.
Before doing so, you do want to take some time to reflect on your values and wishes. Begin by carefully reflecting on your values and wishes; think of what would matter most at the end of your life and what decisions you would want to take at that time. These considerations can help guide your decisions about future care and medical treatment, but also help you start manifesting how you want to be remembered. How much would such a thing cost? If it’s a lot then you better start saving! The average funeral costs between $7,500-$10,000.
Speak with your doctor in advance and ask questions. If you have Medicare, many questions are often covered as part of your annual wellness visit.
Choosing the right person to make medical decisions for you is such a crucial step in your healthcare planning. This could be a family member, a loved one, or even an attorney. Once you’ve decided, discussing your values and preferences with them is essential. And know that you can change the point of contact at any point.
Share your forms
Finally, share your forms with your healthcare proxy, doctors, and loved ones, and keep the conversation going. Remember to be flexible and take it one step at a time, as everyone approaches this process differently. By starting the conversation and making your wishes known, you can help ensure that your values and preferences are respected in a medical emergency.
Advanced planning is essential for life partners who want to ensure that their wishes are known and respected. By taking these few steps, you can ensure that your partner has the legal authority to decide based on your wishes and values on your behalf. You can also communicate your end-of-life wishes and preferences, ensuring that your partner is prepared to make informed decisions that reflect your beliefs and values. With these legal documents in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that you and your partner are prepared for any emergency.