When it comes to estate planning and making plans for the medical unknown, an advance directive can be extremely important. If you live in Ohio and you’re considering drafting up an advance directive for yourself, this guide will walk you through the basics of what it is, how to create it and if it’s right for you.
Making plans for the end of your life is extremely important even if it’s not the rosiest task. Luckily, talking with a financial advisor can streamline the process significantly. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can pair you with up to three financial advisors in your area. All you have to do is fill out a short survey, and the tool will do the rest. Your advisor can help you organize your general finances, assist with estate planning and prepare for all the possibilities that may arise.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive, also known as an advance health care directive or a living will, is a legal document that outlines what health care decisions should be made on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make your own decisions.
There are a great many different decisions to be made in just about any medical situation. Those dealing with serious illnesses or end-of-life situations are no exception. Do you want doctors to try to keep you alive no matter what even if you’re suffering? Should you undergo a risky surgery? If you do pass away, do you want to be buried or cremated? Having an advance directive helps your doctors to focus on providing you with best treatment instead of wondering about your wishes.
How to Create an Advance Directive in Ohio
There are two types of Advance Directives you can choose to create in the state of Ohio. These are the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Ohio Living Will Declaration. You can choose to complete both or just one of them.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to give an individual of your choosing the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf. You can choose anyone as your agent except your doctor, an employee of your health care facility or someone you’re currently divorcing or from whom you’re legally separated. You may also want to name an alternative representative in case your primary representative is unavailable for some reason. Your agent will have decision-making authority once a doctor determines that you’re incapable of making your own decisions.
The Ohio Living Will Declaration allows you to lay out all of your wishes in one place. That way, your doctor or your appointed health care representative can review them. You can decide what instructions to list, if you want to list any at all. However, there are at least two situations you should provide your views on. First, you should express if you would like doctors to prolong your life if they determine that you are terminally ill. Second, you should note what steps you would like to be taken in the event that you become permanently unconscious.
You’ll need the signatures of two adult witnesses in order for either advance directive to go into effect. These witnesses can’t be your relative, your agent or your spouse. They also can’t be your doctor or the administrator of the nursing home in which you’re receiving care.
Should You Get an Advance Directive?
There are two crucial factors to consider when determining if you should create an advance directive. First, you’ll want to reflect on your medical history. If you think there’s a decent to good chance that you could enter into a situation where you can’t make your own medical decisions, then an advance directive is likely an important thing to have. If you don’t foresee that situation as likely, then an advance directive would be less likely to come into play.
Having said that, it’s impossible to predict the future. So, you’ll also need to examine your individual medical wishes. What kind of treatment would you want in a hypothetical end-of-life situation? Are there treatments or procedures that you wish to steer clear of? Unless an advance directive is in place, doctors have an obligation to try and keep you alive. So if, for instance, you are opposed to being put on life support, then you’ll likely need an advance directive in order to safely avoid that.
Advance Directive vs. Living Trust vs. Last Will
Like we mentioned, advance directives also go by living wills. Because of this, it’s easy to mix them up with both living trusts and last wills. While all three can deal with preparing for end-of-life situations, each are distinct documents.
A living trust is a legal document that transfers control of your assets to a trustee during your life. Your trustee manages the trust on your behalf, and after your death, he or she can continue to do so. The trust can be flexible to allow you to move assets in and out (this is called a revocable trust) or not. You can also specify if or when you want the trustee to dissolve the trust and transfer assets to your beneficiaries.
A last will and testament, also known as a last will or a will, is a legally binding document that outlines what you would like to do with your estate and assets after you pass away. You can name a beneficiary or multiple ones if you wish. After your death, an executor will make sure to carry out your wishes.
A living will, as we now know, doesn’t have anything to do with your estates or your assets. Rather, it expresses how you wish to receive medical care once you can no longer make those decisions alone.
An advance directive can be an extremely helpful tool for a particularly stressful situation. By outlining your wishes clearly in a legally binding document, you can eliminate second-guessing by your loved ones and your doctors. If you have strong opinions about how you would like to handle any serious medical issues or if you think there’s a good chance you could become incapable of making your own medical decisions, then it may be sensible to consider an advance directive.
Tips for Planning Your Estate
- If the idea of estate planning has you immediately anxious, a financial advisor could be a big help. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can pair you with up to three qualified financial advisors in your area. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your financial situation. Then, the tool will do the rest of the work for you so you can get the help you need.
- When it comes to preparing for serious medical issues, having the right health insurance is extremely important. Make sure to choose a plan with a deductible that’s appropriate for your situation, and check that your doctors accept the plan.
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