Rocky Mount, North Carolina, residents may think of estate planning as something that pertains to what happens to a person’s property after he or she dies. While this is true, another important aspect to estate planning involves planning for a time in which a person can no longer make medical decisions for herself, even if those decisions involve life or death.

There are a couple of documents a person may use in this respect. The first is formally referred to as an advance directive may commonly be called a living will, even though it is not really a will in the legal sense of the term.

While they can take a number of forms, an advance directive basically gives a person’s medical providers and family an idea of what treatment a person does or does not want as part of his end-of-life care. For instance, a person can specify if he wants food and water administered medically, through a tube.

An advance directive also can specify whether a person’s health care agent has the power to make decisions contrary to the advance directive or not. This raises an important, which is that, via a separate document, a person can appoint a trusted person, usually a loved one, to be her health care agent, meaning doctors will look to him if the patient is not able to speak for herself about medical care.

Preparing these documents requires knowledge of a North Carolina’s legal requirements, but it also requires the important skill of being able to help someone think through decisions of this magnitude. An estate planning attorney can be very helpful to a North Carolina resident who is in the process of planning for their final years.