Although numerous websites, advertisements, and articles espouse the benefits of creating an estate plan, a 2020 article from Caring.com found that only about one-third of Americans have at least one estate planning document. The article goes on to say that of those respondents who reported having at least one estate planning document, about one quarter said they had a will and about thirteen percent had a living trust. One important document that few respondents admitted having was any advance care directive: only about six percent of respondents who had one or more estate planning documents had created a healthcare power of attorney or living will.
The Power of a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will
Advance care directives like a healthcare power of attorney or a living will are different than a will or trust. Advance care directives are designed to take effect while you are still alive. In the case of a healthcare power of attorney, the document becomes effective upon the conditions specified in the power of attorney itself – usually upon your incapacitation as determined by medical personnel. A living will becomes effective when decisions concerning end-of-life care must be made and you are unable to communicate your wishes to your medical team.
Both documents are critical to ensuring that you receive the medical care you wish to receive during life’s toughest moments. Each document can be used to protect you from receiving medical procedures and treatment that you find objectionable on religious or moral grounds and from having your life prolonged artificially when there is no hope of recovery. While each document affects you, they can benefit your loved ones by sparing them from having to make difficult medical decisions in times of crisis.
Creating Advance Care Directives Takes Little Time
Knowing how significant medical decisions and end-of-life choices can be, as well as how easy it can be to create an advance care directive, it is surprising that more Ohioans do not take the little time required and set up a living will or healthcare power of attorney. In general, in order to create an advance care directive, a person must:
- Be over the age of 18 years
- Be of sufficiently-sound mind to make free and knowing choices about their healthcare and end-of-life decisions
- Reduce their choices and decisions to writing (an attorney can create a properly-formatted advance care directive, or there are templates online that can help)
- Have their document notarized or witnessed by disinterested witnesses; that is, witnesses who do not stand to gain in any way from a deterioration in your health
While these documents can be created yourself, it is typically beneficial to have an attorney review them for completeness and to make sure they accurately record your wishes. An attorney’s review takes little time and can help prevent problems from surfacing at a critical time.
Call Dawes Legal, LLC for Your Estate Planning Needs
One potential explanation for the low number of people who have any estate planning document could be a lack of knowledge about how an attorney can help create a comprehensive estate plan in little time. This is what Dawes Legal, LLC has been helping those in the Columbus area and throughout Ohio do: protect their assets, themselves, and their family members during and after serious or fatal accidents. Whether you have no idea what estate planning encompasses or you already have a will or trust, let Dawes Legal, LLC help you ensure you are protected. Set up your initial consultation with us by calling our office at (614) 733-9999 today.