Many people think estate planning and they immediately flash to the financial side, and of course this is a huge part of it. But it is important to recognize the fact that estate planning is one branch of the larger specialty of elder law. These days a comprehensive plan is going to address all of the eventualities of aging, and as life spans continually expand incapacity planning is now a must.
When you consider the fact that people 85 years of age and older are the fastest growing portion of the population you can see how important incapacity planning has become. There may well come a time when you cannot physically or mentally make sound decisions for yourself. For your own sake and that of your family you should have advance health care directives in place so that your wishes are known. The two advance directives that have become staples of the comprehensive estate plan of the 21st century are the living will and the durable medical power of attorney or health care proxy.
With a living will you state your preferences regarding the types of medical procedures you would be willing to accept and those you would prefer to refuse in the event of your incapacitation. For most people the matter of whether or not they would want to be kept alive by artificial means is the core issue.
A durable medical power of attorney is a legal instrument that you use to empower someone to make medical decisions for you should you become unable to make them for yourself. You may say that your living will serves this purpose, but many people find that it is difficult to address every possible medical scenario in a written document. So just to be sure that a person of their choice will be the one making any decisions that could become necessary they appoint a health care proxy.