You shouldn’t only focus on what happens after your death when making an estate plan. The latter years of your life can be very unpredictable. You don’t know what sort of health issues may happen to you and if you’ll end up in a physically or mentally incapacitated state. It can feel frightening thinking about being in a state where you can’t control what you do or what happens to you.
However, you can prepare for these circumstances years before they happen. Older residents are encouraged to have a living will and health care proxy to outline what sort of medical care they desire from the doctors. You can state your treatment preferences on your living will and select someone to make your health care decisions in case the doctors have additional questions.
Though Florida does have statutes in place to select a proxy in case you haven’t, you should choose your representative before the state does. Health care proxies have crucial responsibilities in emergencies, so you need to keep the following aspects in mind when making your decision:
Their relationship with you
Most health care proxies tend to be a family member or close friend of the estate planner. Given that this role does involve making decisions on treatments that determine whether you live or die, you’ll need to assign someone you can trust. Florida does prioritize family members over close friends, so it is especially important to make your preferences known now if you want a lifelong buddy in this role.
Their age and health conditions
You aren’t the only one that could end up in a compromising state in the future. Many estate planners often choose their spouses because they are the closest people to them, but they end up having to change after their partner dies first, divorces them or gets incapacitated. It is essential to change your option immediately if you find yourself with similar circumstances so that your new representative gets more time to understand your preferences.
You’re asking someone to take on a huge task here. Even if your pick loves you, they may not want the responsibility of handling your potentially final moments. Before you assign them to the role, you should discuss with them what duties come with the position and be clear on what wishes you would have if you are incapacitated. Remain open to any questions they have during that discussion and update them if you’ve changed your mind on how you want your health care in the future.
If you have further questions on how you should approach health care in these circumstances, contact estate planning attorneys to discuss your available options.