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Which Affairs to Get In Order If Facing Surgery



If you are facing major surgery, there are some important legal and financial issues and decisions that you need to address. It is possible that not all of these matters may apply to your situation. However, it is at least advisable to give consideration to these issues, if not meet with a trusted attorney or financial planner to further discuss them.

If you take the time to create simple legal tools, such as advance directives, living wills, and durable powers of attorney, you can make sure that your intentions and wishes are carried out if you are no longer able to make decisions of this magnitude on your own due to deterioration in health. You can also reduce the challenges you face following surgery with bills, medical insurance coverage, and work absences, as well as focus your energies on your physical health instead of a mass of paperwork or phone calls.

Advance Directives

This legal tool deals with making decisions about your health care if you are too sick or incapacitated to make such decisions. You generally have the right to make your own decisions about your health care or refusing medical treatment, if you so desire. But, if you are not able to make health care decisions on your own, you can make a designation of a person to stand in your place and make those decisions. That designee can specify how health decisions should be addressed.

There are two common forms of advance directives:

  • Living wills
  • Durable health care powers of attorney

They can be separate documents or combined into a single document in some jurisdictions.

Living Wills

These legal documents specify the procedures and medical treatments that you do or do not want if you are terminally ill, unconscious permanently, or incapacitated to the point of not being able to make decisions for yourself when they are required to be made. Living wills often have "do not resuscitate" orders that specify that a person does not want to be kept alive on machines or have feeding tubes inserted. If you make these decisions in advance and reduce them to writing in a legal document, then medical providers can make sure your intentions are carried out.

Durable Health Care Powers of Attorney

This is a legal document that makes the designation of a party to make health care decisions on your behalf. The person can make some or all decisions. You can limit the ability of the designee to make certain decisions or you can create a general designation for all health care decisions.

Other Considerations

Durable powers of attorney, organ donation, will updates, and updates to beneficiaries for retirement plans and life insurance policies are among the additional considerations that should be made, if not at least considered, if you face major surgery.

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