When most individuals think about estate planning, their minds go to their personal wealth. While settling your debts and disposing of your assets is certainly important, your estate plan also should address your medical goals and end-of-life care.
If you do not want doctors to resuscitate you after you die, you may want to have a do-not-resuscitate order in your estate plan. This is not absolutely necessary, though, especially if you have designated a health care proxy.
What is a health care proxy?
According to the New York State Department of Health, a health care proxy is simply someone you choose to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make them for yourself. Your inability to make medical decisions may stem from incapacitation, a serious illness or a catastrophic injury.
When choosing your health care proxy, it is important to find someone who is likely to make the same decisions you would make. If you prefer not to have doctors resuscitate you, your health care proxy should understand this wish. He or she should then tell doctors not to use resuscitation equipment to bring you back to life.
How can an advance directive help?
In addition to designating a health care proxy, you probably also want your estate plan to include an advance directive. This important document tells health care providers about the procedures you want them to use and the ones you want them to forego. If you want to have a DNR order, you can put it in your advance directive.
Choosing a health care proxy and writing a comprehensive advance directive are only part of the equation, though. Ultimately, after you have addressed medical care and end-of-life treatments, you should commit to regularly reviewing your estate plan to ensure it continues to reflect your genuine intentions.