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3 reasons people add advance directives to an estate plan

An advanced directive is an important estate planning document that discusses someone’s medical preferences. People may want to avoid certain medications because addiction runs in their family or may have specific wishes about resuscitation or life support after a medical emergency.

Pennsylvania adults of any age can add advance directives and also powers of attorney to their estate plans as a means of protecting their interests in the event that they are ever incapacitated by illness or injury. There are often specific situations that push someone to add an advance directive to their estate plan.

Turning 18

Young adults typically don’t need to worry much about their medical care, as their parents can handle matters on their behalf in an emergency. However, once someone turns 18, their parents no longer have access to their medical records or any say in the care that they receive. Young adults will typically need to clarify their medical preferences and often require a power of attorney for medical matters because their parents cannot act on their behalf anymore.

Receiving a major diagnosis

Whether someone just found out that they have cancer or a degenerative neurological condition, their health will likely influence what kind of medical support they want to receive in an emergency. For example, those diagnosed with a terminal illness might decline heroic efforts that resuscitation, while those facing a serious condition like cancer may want to clarify their preferences on life support. Even those who have never thought about their specific medical preferences before may find that such review is necessary after a doctor diagnoses them with a serious medical issue.

Preparing for retirement

Even if someone had a basic advance directive already added to their Pennsylvania estate plan years ago when they first became a parent, they may need to reconsider the preferences they outlined as they prepare for retirement. Older adults may find that their wishes have changed. Fears about addiction, for example, often seem less pressing during the golden years as opposed to at the peak of someone’s career. Those reviewing their estate plans to ensure they have the right protective paperwork and financial support for retirement may want to update or create an advance directive that discusses what kind of treatment they will receive.

Realizing when having a record of one’s medical preferences would be particularly beneficial can help those who are reviewing or creating an estate plan to put together the most effective documents possible.



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