Living Wills And Advance Directives For Health Care
Whether you are considering hospice care or are in excellent health right now, it’s never too soon to think about what types of care you would like to receive when you are no longer capable of making decisions for yourself.
With the advances in medical science and technology, we now have complex choices when it comes to end-of-life care. While having conversations about dying is difficult, it’s still important to talk with your loved ones about your personal choices before a crisis strikes.
Medical And Estate Planning Communities
An advance directive is a term used in the medical and estate planning communities that refers to your spoken or written instructions about future medical care and treatment. A living will is a document you create that puts into writing your express wishes in the event you become terminally ill and are unable to communicate your wishes.
A living will can specify your wishes, and it may include the name of a person of your choosing that you want to make health care choices for you when you can no longer make these choices for yourself.
A living will does not strip you of your right to decide about your current health care. As long as you are still capable of deciding and expressing your decisions, your advance directive will not be used. You may appoint a health care surrogate to make medical decisions for you.
If you choose to designate a health care surrogate, make sure that you discuss your wishes with him or her ahead of time and that you select someone who you trust will carry out your wishes.
Appointing An Alternate Health Care Surrogate
It is also recommended that you appoint an alternate health care surrogate in case your first choice is unavailable during the time when decisions must be made. Based on your wishes, your living will document may include instructions regarding:
- The withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging treatments
- The withholding or withdrawal of artificially provided hydration or nutrition
- Designation of a health care surrogate
- Organ donation
Once you have created your living will, it’s important to make sure that your loved ones, your designated health care surrogate and your physician know that you have an advance directive and where your living will is located. It’s also recommended to ask your physician and other health care providers to make your advance directives part of your permanent medical record.
Contact An Estate Planning Attorney
A living will is one of the important documents included in a comprehensive estate plan. While people may not think they need an advance directive until they are older, no one can predict when they may get involved in a serious automobile accident or fall ill with a life-threatening disease such as cancer.