Estate Planning & Living Trusts

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38. For medical decisions

The first is a living will. Although the name is similar to a living trust, it does something very different.

A living will lets your physician know the kind of life support treatment you would want in case of a terminal illness or injury. It is very limited -- it only applies to life support in terminal situations. And in some states, your physician is under no legal obligation to follow it. So, a living will doesn't give you a lot of control.

An "advance directive for health care" is better. It lets you give legal authority to another person (like your spouse or adult child) in advance to make any health care decision for you -- including the use of life support -- if you become unable to make them yourself. This document is much broader than a living will, and it can be legally enforced.

HIPPA authorizations are needed so your doctors will have permission to discuss your medical situation with family members, close friends, business partners, advisors and others.

If you want an estate plan that will give you all this control -- both financially and medically -- here's what you need to do.


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