We spend our adult years hopefully living in the present, but many are always planning for the future as well. We are all often focused on just making it through the week, but maybe we’d have more peace of mind if we knew our affairs were taken care of in case the worst should happen. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you have an end-of-life plan. You can ease the minds of your loved ones when the time comes to make those end-of-life decisions. This includes estate planning, safeguarding important documents, and speaking to your loved ones about your wishes before the time comes.
Planning for the end of your life involves making tough decisions. It’s not exactly everyone’s favorite thing to think about. Although not a fun discussion, there are often several decisions that must be made. First, you will want to decide who you would like to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated. This could be a family member or close friend, but they should be the one person you can count on to assure that your wishes are followed. Secondly, you will want to decide what type of life-sustaining measures you wish to have done in your final days, if any. This can include resuscitations, being put on a ventilator, or any life-saving measures. Thirdly, if you have minor children, you will want to decide who will care for them in your absence. Lastly, you will want to decide how you want your belongings split amongst your loved ones. Preparing these decisions in advance is important as it removes a lot of courtroom hassle for your loved ones and will allow to mourn without the need for costly litigation.
Once you make those tough decisions, you will want to put together an estate plan. This end-of-life can include several legal documents, but the main documents you should have are as follows:
- Last Will and Testament: Outlines your wishes for the distribution of your belongings and can also include your choice of custody of your dependents or who will take over any business and/or interests you have.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Designates someone to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make those decisions
- Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney/ Medical Power of Attorney: Similar to a durable power of attorney, but for all medical decisions
- Living Will/ Advanced Directive: Spells out your wishes for medical treatments that you either consent or do not consent to have to keep you alive
Once those documents have been drafted, it is vital that you keep them in a safe and secure place. You may also chose to leave the original copies with your lawyer. Regardless of where the documents are, be sure to keep all of the forms organized and together. Having them in one space makes it easier for you and your loved ones to have everything they need prior to probating your will. When possible, utilize a fire-proof, water-proof safe or even a safe deposit box for these important documents. Always inform your attorney where these documents are located, and when possible, make electronic copies of the documents. All of these steps will help protect those documents and help protect your wishes.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, you will want to talk to your family and loved ones about your wishes and plans for the end of your life. Their support will be invaluable. You can let them know what your wishes are directly, so they can understand them and not feel any guilt or confusion when executing them. It may be a difficult conversation, but it is definitely one worth having.
End-of-life decisions may be difficult to make but having a plan in place makes those decisions easier to execute by your family and loved ones. You can then rest assured knowing your wishes are known and will be executed exactly how you wish them to.
If you have any questions regarding your end-of-life legal options, or if you are looking for help with estate planning in the New Orleans or Lafayette area, contact Emily Latiolais at Latiolais Law Firm.