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What can I do about end-of-life decisions?

As this blog has mentioned, it is very important for New Jersey residents to implement a legal plan so that their assets get passed down to the next generation as they wished following their deaths. However, creating a will or trust is not the only critical step in the estate planning process.

A resident of Kearny or the other northern communities around Newark also needs to deal with the fact that they are likely going to need help making end-of-life decisions. After all, as one gets older, and sicker, it becomes more and more likely that he or she will not be able to communicate personally with his or her medical professionals.

There are two basic documents one uses to accomplish this piece of one's overall estate plan. The first, called a Proxy Directive, will give one person, usually a trusted loved one, the power to make medical decisions on behalf of a New Jersey resident who otherwise cannot communicate her wishes directly. These decisions can include those that involve life and death.

Another document is called an Instructive Directive, which may be more commonly referred to as a living will. As both names imply, the Instructive Directive gives the person an opportunity to give physicians written guidance as to what sort of treatments they want to keep them alive and under what circumstances.

While it is true that filling out this document might be something one can do without professional legal help, there's more to these directives than just signing a piece of paper. They both have important legal consequences that could literally determine when one's life will end.

Thus, the decision of whether to complete one, what language to include, and, perhaps most importantly, whom to appoint as a health proxy should all be thought over with the help of experienced estate planning counsel.

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