What Are Advance Directives for Health Care and Why Do I Need Them?
It may be hard for you today to imagine needing something like an advance directive for health care, especially if you are currently in good health and in firm control of your life and all decision-making processes. It can be somewhat painful to consider the realities of growing older, but estate planning allows you to look ahead selflessly and provide a way for everybody to know what to do later if you cannot make decisions on your own. And while you may feel like you have plenty of time to plan right now, consider what would happen if you were suddenly incapacitated due to a major accident—not to mention the possibility of a long-term illness later.
The advance directive for health care is known under numerous monikers, from the living will to the medical or advance health care directive. This allows you to set a path for health care later when you may not actually be able to speak to a medical team and make coherent choices; however, these documents allow you to set that in motion now, giving consent for a variety of common—and often very serious—treatments ahead of time.
The advance directive also allows you to put family members in charge of making such decisions. You have probably seen humorous, yet all too realistic, portrayals of this process as different family members wonder who will be at the top of the list for making such decisions, appointed as an agent. This is something you should put great thought to, whether you put your husband or wife, son or daughter, or brother or sister in charge of making health decisions for you later. You can also appoint the acting physician as agent.
Reviewing all that needs to considered can be rather intense at first, but with the help of an experienced estate planning law firm, you should have a better understanding of what needs to be decided on, to include issues such as whether or not you want to stay on life support treatments or would like some combination of them like a ventilator, tube feeder, surgery or more. Another important element is the DNR order, which must be completed with your doctor. The directive is also a good time to decide whether you want to be an organ donor, stating yes or no.
You may also want to discuss an incapacity plan with your estate planning attorney to protect your assets if you suddenly lack the capacity due to a health issue. Contact the Scriber Law Group for all your estate planning needs, from wills to trusts, asset protection, and more. Call us at (404) 939-7562 or contact us online to set up a free and confidential consultations.