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Health Care Directive – Estate Planning 05.19.2011

When it comes to estate planning, we tell our clients that there are at least four documents a person should execute in order to have a thorough estate plan in place: (1) a Will or Trust, (2) a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, (3) a Health Care Power of Attorney and (4) a Health Care Directive (also known as a Living Will or Advance Directive).

A Health Care Directive is the document you use to identify your specific wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment should you have a terminal condition from which there is little or no chance of recovery and you are near death. A Health Care Directive will not only identify your specific wishes, it will also alleviate the burden your family might feel if they are forced to make those decisions because you are unable to.

Normally, your wishes only take effect if your physicians certify that the use of life-sustaining treatment would only prolong the process of dying. If you do not desire that such treatment be used and that you be allowed to die naturally or that you do not desire artificially provided nutrition and/or hydration, you identify this in your Health Care Directive.

You may also give further written instructions regarding your care, including your desire to receive or not receive medication that might alleviate your pain but could also hasten your death.

If you have questions about a Health Care Directive, give us a call at either our Battle Ground or our Snoqualmie office. We can assist you with all your estate planning needs.