Planning for Your Future: It’s always the spouse…isn’t it?

Matthew Hart column logoBy Matthew M. Hart, Esq.

Last month I introduced readers to the Advance Health Care Directive (AHD), the document attorneys use to specify who will make your medical decisions when you cannot.  When I sit with my clients to discuss the AHD the big decision is who will make the decisions.  If my clients are married they usually choose their spouse.  Are you surprised I didn’t say, “they always choose their spouse?”

Part of my job is to gently help my clients face reality.  Although the spouse seems like the logical choice, what if my clients are in their 80’s and have only been married six months?  What if they have adult children in their 50’s and 60’s?  Sometimes, it will make more sense for that client to let the adult children make those final decisions instead of a new spouse.  What about the spouse who just can’t live without their mate?

When the critical time comes to make that tough decision, will the grieving spouse be able to set aside their emotions to make the decision?  Would it be more practical for an adult child to make that decision?  Although both of these situations are not too common, I have seen circumstances where the spouse wasn’t the best choice. When creating an AHD clients should take an honest look at who can make the final decision.

Next month I will talk about the issues around children and AHD’s.

Matthew Hart is a California Licensed Attorney who is an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California.  He can be reached at 925-754-2000 or and he has offices in Antioch and Walnut Creek.


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