Advance Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive is a document that specifies your wishes about your medical care in the event that you are not able to communicate them. You may give a written statement that includes decisions such as the life-prolonging measures, special treatments, diagnostic testing, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, organ donation, and others. You may also appoint an agent to make decisions about your healthcare needs, called a healthcare power of attorney. By specifying your wishes early on, you can relieve our family of the burden of trying to decide what you would most prefer should you become ill.

While you are establishing your advance health care directive, it may be beneficial to speak with your physician as they could help you think ahead and decide now what health care you would like to receive. You may also want to get input from your family as they may be heavily involved in your medical care.

Creating an Advance Healthcare Directive

Although each state is different, you most likely will have to fill out an advance care directive form. The form will ask you to designate a person to carry out your wishes, called a healthcare proxy. Your proxy should be someone you trust to make health care decisions if you are unable to.

This health care directive or living will comes into effect when your physician decides that you do not have the ability or capacity to properly make medical decisions for yourself. If you are unable to understand what is going on or unable to communicate, your power of attorney will step in to help.

An advance health care directive will remain in effect as long as you are alive. You are able to revoke this document, but make sure that you notify your physician and power of attorney of your decision. The court may also revoke the document if they believe that it is not valid. If your family members or physician suspect that your healthcare proxy is not acting in accordance with your wishes, then they may ask the court to remove their privilege.

Common Misconceptions about Advance Healthcare Directives

Many people decide against creating an advance health directive because of some common misconceptions about the document. First, people assume that an advance directive means that their illness should not be treated. In fact, an advance directive can specify which treatments you want and do not want.

Individuals also assume that appointing a health care proxy means that they no longer have the power to make their own decisions. In reality, you make all your healthcare decisions until your physician believes that you are no longer able to so. Naming a healthcare proxy simply ensure that your wishes will be carried out by someone you trust in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself.

Some people will wait to create an advance directive because they think that they need to know exactly what they want before establishing the document. Advance health care directives can be changed at any time so it is better to create the document, and modify it as you change your mind.

No matter how young or old you may be, it is important that you draft an advance healthcare directive. You deserve to have your wishes carried out while you are unable to communicate your decisions. Talk to an estate planning lawyer in your area to review your document.