No one wants to think about death and dying. However, the process of settling one's estate can be made less complex by an effective estate plan. One of the simplest ways to begin is with a will and advance directives.
ADVANCE DIRECTIVES – GENERAL INFORMATION:
Advance Directives generally include a combination of the following documents: Living Will, Appointment of Health Care Representative, Designation of a Conservator of the Person for Future Incapacity, and Document of Anatomical Gift.
Living Will - allows you to make advance decisions regarding the withholding and/or withdrawal of life support systems such as a respirator (i.e., "heroic measures") in the event your medical condition is deemed terminal or your treating physician has determined that you are permanently unconscious. These conditions are also referred to as "end of life" issues.
Appointment of Health Care Representative- allows you to make an advance determination with regard to the person or persons who can make all health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. More specifically, a Health Care Representative makes decisions regarding your medical treatment if you are terminally ill or are permanently unconscious as explained above. The Representative also makes decisions under other medical circumstances when you are unable to do so.
Designation of Conservator of the Person and/or the Estate for Future Incapacity- allows you to appoint a conservator in the event that someone is needed to care for you and your personal needs. If you do not specify someone to do so, the Probate Court will make a determination and will appoint someone.
Document of Anatomical Gift - allows you to make a declaration regarding whether you wish to be an organ donor and, if so, if there are any limitations you want to place on your anatomical gift.
Durable or Springing Power of Attorney - allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf with regard to your personal business and financial transactions such as banking and real estate matters. Durable powers of attorney are effective upon signing; springing powers of attorney only take effect upon your incapacity.