Advanced Healthcare Directives

Advanced Directive Orders Will Ensure Your Wishes Are Carried Out


An advanced directive (also called a Living Will or health care directive) is a legal document that outlines your wishes for advanced medical treatment. This document will let them know if you want to bed hydrated and fed if you’re terminally sick or in a coma. Or if you want heroic measures such as CPR, defibrillation or a ventilator.

Healthcare providers must follow the wishes you have outlined in the advanced directive.

One possible kind of advanced directive is a “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” order, but it’s usually seen as the opposite of an Advanced Directive (AD). With an AD, you can lay out which medical treatments you want in the event of an emergency or near the end of life to prolong/save your life.

Anyone Can Have An Advanced Directive

Most people mistakenly assume that ADs are for the elderly, but remember, life support measures are applied to anybody. For example, you could have an accident or an undiagnosed medical condition that renders you incapacitated.  With the advanced directive, you tell your family what measures you want and if you want to share your organs in the event of your death. 

An AD is peace of mind for your family, as they don’t have to decide what to do.  This document is usually created when a person is putting together a Will, Trust, etc. 

While an Advanced Directive can be created at any time, it should always be drafted simultaneously with a financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, Will and trust documents. The AD should stipulate your durable power of attorney for healthcare and HIPAA release and include a living Will. 

This document informs the designated person what you would like done if you become incapacitated in any way.  They can then legally act on your behalf, following those wishes you have laid out. If your goal is to die in peace, you can stipulate the wish in the document, and the family won’t be fighting on what should be done next.

Advanced directives are ideal when you have a serious medical condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Make sure to create this document before you are declared incompetent, as the person who becomes your guardian will then make all the decisions for you (even going against what you really want).

Review Your Advanced Directive When You Move

If you move to another state, review your AD to ensure you’re the validity of your wishes. Some hospitals and financial institutions may disregard another state’s advanced directive, even if it’s genuinely what you want. State laws vary on what they deem legally permissible and acceptable in advanced directives.

Make sure to have a lawyer look over the documents to see if the AD is aligned with your new state’s laws. Some states may need more witnesses on an advanced directive or want it notarized.  Even if your five people witness your advanced directive, a state may deem it invalid for failure of notarizing it.

An Advanced Directive may also be problematic when the witnesses are family members, spouses, etc. If you have a power of attorney document with people who are no longer alive, it could become null and void.  If your partner dies before you, you may decide that it’s not worth living, and extreme measures shouldn’t be taken to prolong your life.

Declaration of Guardian Document

Use the advanced directive to make a Declaration of Guardian. Just tapping someone for a healthcare power of attorney or financial power of attorney may not be enough. With a Declaration of Guardian, you can tap those you want and those you don’t want to be a guardian if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

As you see, an advanced directive is a critical legal document that informs your family, friends and doctors what you would like to do if you can’t make the choices for yourself at the time. When you need an advanced directive formulated, you need a team of lawyers with a vast amount of experience of Wills, trust, advanced directives and others so that your wishes are put into words and action.

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