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Does your family know what to do if you're incapacitated?

Do you know what will happen should you become incapable of making your own medical decisions? You might think that you conveyed your wishes clearly and accurately to your loved ones, but, without the necessary legal provisions in place, your wishes may have very little impact on how your affairs are handled if you become incapacitated. Although most people in Oklahoma have little desire to contemplate this type of situation, it is still important to give careful consideration to what your wishes are and who you trust to handle them.

A health care power of attorney can name an agent who will be in charge of making necessary medical decisions on your behalf. Even if a person has a spouse to whom that decision will fall, if that spouse has any compromising conditions, such as dementia, a different individual may be a better choice. When naming this person as the individual in charge of your possible future health care needs, it is a good idea to also let them know what your wishes are.

To ensure that your health care will be handled the way that you wish, you may also want to consider a living will. In this legal document, you can outline your wishes for care in various situations. Living wills generally address your wishes concerning life support. If you have controversial views about when life-saving measures should be taken and when they should not, you may want to address this with your health care proxy to make sure that he or she is comfortable with making a decision on your behalf.

The desire to avoid thoughts of becoming incapacitated or facing your own mortality can be understandable, but preparing for the future requires attention. Especially for those in Oklahoma who are at a high risk for terminal illnesses or who are battling a deadly disease, making sure that a health care proxy and living will are in place can be wise. Not only can they help ensure that your final wishes are respected, but also they can take the burden of making difficult decisions off of your family members' shoulders.

Source:, "Dealing With a Loved One's Cognitive Decline Is Simpler with Right Legal Documents in Place", Shomari Hearn, Feb. 27, 2015

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