THE RIGHT TIME
When’s the right time to sign a living will and health care proxy? If you have strong feelings about the way you want to be cared for if you’re ill or injured, you can do it as soon as you reach the age of majority in the state where you live, usually either 18 or 21. It’s easy to think of healthcare as a problem for the elderly, but the truth is most of the major court cases involving a patient’s right to refuse a particular type of treatment or the right to die have dealt with young people — often in their late teens or early 20s — who were injured in an accident or became ill unexpectedly.
SOME CRITICAL CHOICES
As morbid as it sounds, even as you’re looking forward to retirement, you need to deal with two critical issues: the medical decisions you want made if you’re ill, and what you want to happen to your property after you die. If you don’t make your intentions clear, your family and friends face a greater emotional burden and often greater expense than they might otherwise. And you might not approve of the decisions that are made without your direction.
It’s not enough just to tell people what you want to happen. State laws usually require written proof of your wishes concerning life-prolonging treatment if you’re critically ill, just as they require a legal will to transfer your property.