Many people in the greater Cincinnati area probably have heard that the estate planning process involves choosing how one wants to divide up her property after she dies. The documents an Ohioan drafts, if done properly, should ensure that her loved ones or favorite charities receive an inheritance with minimal conflict or inefficiency.

However, most people in this state would also be well-advised to think about what kind of medical care and treatments they want at the end of their lives. After all, chances are fairly good that, as a resident gets older, he or she will not be physically or mentally able to make informed medical decisions for him or herself. Estate planning is a good opportunity to think about this possibility and what to do about it.

Ohio residents will typically use two different types of documents, both called advanced directives, in order to plan for medical care at the end of their lives.

The first document is often referred to as a health care power of attorney. As the name implies, a person who completes and executes this document will nominate a person, usually a trusted loved one, to make medical decisions on her behalf. It is important to realize that these decisions can involve matters of life and death. For instance, the attorney in fact can tell medical providers not to resuscitate the person.

The second document may be called a living will. The living will allows a person to give their medical providers instructions regarding their end of life care, including instructions on how far doctors might go in order to preserve a person’s life in the face of a terminal illness.

As with other estate planning documents, speaking with an attorney may be helpful for those interested in preparing advanced directives.