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Retain control over medical care even when incapacitated

Estate planning can be incredibly complex or minimally simplistic depending on the needs of individuals in Oklahoma. The fear of creating a complex estate plan -- even if it is not necessary -- causes many people to put off planning with the idea of getting around to it later. Unfortunately, later is not always available. While estate planning often focuses on what happens after a person's death, the process also helps protect people who have become incapacitated and unable to care for themselves.

Young and old, rich and poor alike, each and every person has the possibility of becoming medically incapacitated. Most people assume that friends and family will step in to care for them when this happens, but the matter is much more complicated than that. Exactly who can make medical decisions and what decisions they can make is largely a difficult topic.

In general, married individuals who become incapacitated can rely on their spouse to make decisions for them. Even in this instance, it is well-advised to have a living will that outlines a person's health care wishes and what procedures and life saving measures they are comfortable with. But what about single people or those who have spouses who are also medically compromised? In addition to a living will, a health care power of attorney can name another individual who is legally able to make medical decisions on their behalf. Additional powers of attorney can put another person in charge of finances during this period of time in order to address the cost of medical care and other ongoing financial obligations.

Estate plans are not just for divvying up the estates of the deceased. Becoming medically incapacitated can be a frightening experience that can also create a great deal of confusion and tension between loved ones who must determine how care should be administered. Oklahoma residents can alleviate this tension by including living wills, powers of attorney and other necessary documents in their estate plan.

Source:, "10 Keys to Proper Estate Planning", March 14, 2016

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