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The Importance of Advanced Healthcare Directives in Estate Planning Under Ohio Law

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Estate Planning

Advanced healthcare directives, such as living wills and healthcare powers of attorney, are important legal tools that allow individuals to plan for medical decision-making in the event of incapacity. Under Ohio law, properly drafted advanced directives can help avoid the need for court-supervised guardianship proceedings if an individual becomes unable to make healthcare decisions. Integrating advanced healthcare directives into an overall estate plan is crucial for Ohio residents to ensure consistency between medical care and financial matters.

What are Advanced Healthcare Directives?

Advanced healthcare directives are written instructions regarding an individual’s preferences for medical treatment in case of future incapacity. There are two main types of advanced directives under Ohio law:

  • Living Will: This document allows individuals to provide instructions about medical care they would want to receive or refuse if they become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. A living will addresses specific treatments and end-of-life decisions.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: This legal document names an agent to make healthcare decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual based on their wishes. The agent can access medical records, consult with doctors, and give informed consent for procedures.

The Role of Advanced Directives in Estate Planning

Advanced healthcare directives are an important part of estate planning for several reasons:

  • Avoid Guardianship – By planning ahead with a healthcare power of attorney, individuals can designate their own agent to make medical decisions rather than having a court-appointed guardian. This helps maintain autonomy even if one becomes incapacitated.
  • Clarify Wishes – A living will provides clear instructions for doctors and loved ones about treatments an individual would want or refuse at the end of life. This minimizes confusion and provides peace of mind.
  • Coordinate with Estate Plan – Naming the same agent in both healthcare and financial powers of attorney helps ensure continuity between medical and financial affairs. This allows coordinated decision-making.

Requirements for Valid Advanced Directives in Ohio

Under Ohio law, advanced healthcare directives must meet certain requirements to be legally valid:

  • Be in writing and signed by the individual
  • Be witnessed by two adults or notarized
  • Name an agent in a healthcare power of attorney document
  • Clearly provide instructions about treatments to be refused or provided

Advanced directives should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect any changes in an individual’s health status or wishes. Consulting an estate planning attorney can help create customized directives that integrate fully with one’s overall estate plan.

Well-drafted advanced healthcare directives allow Ohio residents to maintain control over their medical care and provide critical guidance to loved ones in the event of incapacity. By thinking ahead and integrating these directives into an estate plan, individuals can ensure their financial affairs and healthcare decisions are handled according to their values and preferences.

If you need more information on Advanced Healthcare Directives contact John Tullio at 216-621-7860

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