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Avoid family conflicts with power of attorney and living will

According to several recent surverys, only about 33 percent of people in the U.S. have a living will or medical power of attorney. These estate planning documents detail what medical care you want to receive in cases of serious or terminal illness or catastrophic injury.

A living will tells your family members, as well as physicians and other health care professionals, what medical care you wish to receive in such situations. A medical power of attorney is a document that appoints a loved one or other trusted individual to make medical decisions if you become incapacitated.

The president and chief executive officer for Banner Health believes that completing these documents will not only ensure that a patient's wishes are followed when it comes to their medical care, but can also decrease medical costs across the nation. His reasoning is due in part to media reports from 2010 that Medicare costs for patients in the final two months of their lives totaled $55 billion. He believes that this health care spending could be decreased dramatically if more people had living wills or medical powers of attorney.

It is crucial to understand the implications of such documents before completing them. For a medical power of attorney, it's important that you make your wishes known to whomever you grant decision-making authority. An experienced Colorado estate planning attorney can provide answers to questions you may have regarding these and other estate documents. Because we don't know how much time we really have, it's important to have these documents completed sooner rather than later.

Source: Coloradoan, "Soapbox: Living will, medical power of attorney save money, family conflict" Peter Fine, Feb. 09, 2014

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