Your estate plan determines your legacy after you die. Your will provides instructions regarding how your personal representative distributes your property. It can also name a guardian for your children if they are still young or have special needs.
In large part, your estate plan protects the people you love and support. However, your estate plan can include numerous different documents beyond just your last will and testament or any trust that you create to structure your legacy or qualify for Medicaid. You can also include important documents that will protect you after some kind of medical emergency.
Medical privacy laws protect you but also leave you vulnerable
There are federal laws that explicitly prohibit medical practitioners from sharing your personal medical detail with other people. These laws protect you from any invasion of your privacy and medical discrimination, but they also make you vulnerable during a medical emergency.
You need to create special documents regarding your medical and financial needs in the event of a personal emergency, especially if you don’t have a spouse who can speak for you after an emergency. Medical powers of attorney can give other people access to your medical records or the right to make medical decisions.
Of course, you will want the person speaking on your behalf to make informed decisions about what medical care you receive. An advance directive can provide clear instructions about your medical preferences. Thinking about who will speak for you after a medical emergency and what kind of care you would like to receive can help you provide the right instructions for others.
You may need to address financial needs as well
A financial power of attorney could play an important role in your estate plan. If you become incapacitated somehow, a power of attorney will give other people the authority to pay your bills and access certain financial accounts. Creating a financial power of attorney helps ensure that your financial obligations don’t fall behind because of your medical issues.