Creating an estate plan doesn’t just mean drafting a will. Obviously, it’s important to decide whom you want your property to pass to after you die, but that is only one of many considerations that you need to address in your estate plan.
Considering the possibility of cognitive decline or incapacitation is also wise. You may eventually need someone else to handle financial or medical decisions on your behalf, which is why creating a living will now could help you in the future.
How a living will works
Unlike a last will, which is one specific document, a living will is a collection of multiple documents. These documents address what should happen when or if you can’t speak for yourself but are still alive. People usually have a combination of documents that empower others they trust to take certain steps and additional documents that provide directions for taking those steps.
For example, you could use a power of attorney to give someone the right to make your medical decisions. You can then write out your medical preferences in a supplementary document. That way, people know whether you want life support or whether you want your organs donated without guessing or trying to recall conversations you had years ago. You can also use documents to give people the right to handle your finances or even your business.
If you become incapacitated due to severe cognitive decline or a coma, the people empowered in your living will should then have the authority to act to protect you and your property. Adding a living will to your estate plan can be a great form of protection for you that also provides peace of mind to the people you love.