When do I need to have a will and advanced care directive?
July 14th, 2020
Any time after you turn 18 because the big secret here is, everybody's mortal. Everyone's gonna eventually die. A will and advanced Health Care Directive do two important things. The will says who gets your property after you pass away and, if you're a parent, it names guardians for minor children. Those are really important things for just about everyone.
An advanced healthcare directive does two things depending on which state you live in, but in most states, it appoints agents to make medical decisions for you if you're unable to make them for yourself. Decisions like what doctor, what hospital, what procedure, and then they state your end of life choices as well. That is, if you are unable to breathe or eat. Those are the two most common ways you end up on artificial life support.
If the doctors go to your family and say there's nothing more we can do, should we disconnect this and let this person die a natural death, we want you to tell people what you would want that situation. We don't want your agents to substitute their own ideas about what you might or might not like. We want you to tell them directly, and in the documents.
And I might add, there's one other document that everybody should have after they're 18. And that's a durable power of attorney for finance, and that appoints agents to act for you financially if you're unable to act for yourself. So you know, if you ever watched Monty Python, the advanced directive and power of attorney are the 'not dead yet documents', so you're not dead, but for one reason or another, either temporarily or permanently, you're not able to do things for yourself. You need to appoint people to do them for you because everybody is likely to get hurt or sick at some point in their life.
Everybody reading this definitely will eventually die, so you need to have those three things.