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How can people in New Jersey plan for end-of-life care?

Many people in New Jersey have an opinion on what end-of-life medical care they would like to receive when the time comes. There are a variety of legal documents that a person can execute through estate planning, to ensure these wishes are met. Two of these documents are a power of attorney and a living will.

A health care power of attorney is a document in which a person designates someone to make health care decisions on the person's behalf if the person becomes incapacitated. This directive may also be referred to as a health care proxy or a durable power of attorney for health care. In addition to designating a primary decision-maker, an alternate can also be named should the primary decision-maker be unable to fulfill their duties when the time comes.

A living will is a document in which a person dictates what kind of medical care they want (or don't want) to extend their life. It can also address organ donation and pain management preferences. For example, some people will want to have all efforts made to extend their life as long as possible, while others may only want to receive medical care to extend their life if a cure is possible. Some examples of medical care that one may want to address in a living will are CPR, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis and comfort care.

A health care power of attorney and a living will can work hand-in-hand to ensure your end-of-life wishes are met. They are valuable tools in your estate planning arsenal, and they can provide comfort to loved ones who will know what you desire when you are no longer able to communicate with them. However, to ensure these documents will be legally binding, it may help to consult with a legal professional.

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