A serious illness can happen at any age, but just 18% of those 55 and older have a living will, power of attorney for health care and a last will and testament, according to a 2019 study by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
AZ Central’s recent article entitled “What to know about wills and health care power of attorney in Arizona” says that every adult should have these documents, including young professionals, single people and those without children.
These documents make it easier for an individual and their family during a stressful time. They make your wishes clear.
They also help give directions to family members and allow you to name a person you believe is the most responsible and able to fulfill your wishes.
Note that a power of attorney, living will and last will each has its own purpose.
A power of attorney for health care lets your named agent make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated, while you are still alive. Without a health care power of attorney or living will, it can complicate and delay matters. You should also consider a medical record release or HIPAA authorization so your agent can access medical records easily.
A living will or “advance directive” is used when a person needs end-of-life care. This document can provide instructions on how the person wants to be treated, like not wanting a feeding tube or wanting as much medical help as possible.
In contrast, a last will and testament states what happens to a person’s estate or assets after they pass away. A last will can also designate a guardian for minor children.
A last will can state who will be in charge of the person’s estate, known as an executor or a personal representative.
You should name a primary representative and an alternate to serve and provide copies of the documents to the people chosen for these roles. An estate planning attorney can assist you in preparing a complete plan that will work together to ensure your directives are carried out without the State being involved in making these personal decisions for you.
Reference: AZ Central (Jan. 14, 2021) “What to know about wills and health care power of attorney in Arizona”