As we age, creating an estate plan becomes increasingly important so that our last wishes are carried out, our loved ones are financially protected, and our assets are passed down accordingly. Unfortunately, many people fail to plan for their own healthcare and the emotional stability of their loved ones, should their health rapidly decline. An advance healthcare directive lets physicians know what actions to take in the event of the trustor’s hospitalization and incapacitation, and it lets family members know what to do as well so that there is no confusion, no “what ifs,” and no arguing about what you would have wanted them to do in a given situation.
You Have the Right to Determine What Treatment You Want in the Future
An advance healthcare directive is your written statement expressing the type of healthcare you want if you become incapacitated in the future. It is legally binding, and a physician or family member cannot override it. You may not be aware of it, but federal law mandates that you not only have this right, but you must be told of your right to make an advance directive when you get admitted to a healthcare facility. The Patient Self-Determination Act also requires that some providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid give patients information on advance directives.
What Types of Decisions Should I Make Now for the Future?
The specific healthcare decisions that you want to be made are up to you, and you and your attorney can go over what you want your advance healthcare directive to contain. Some common aspects that advance directives contain include the following:
• Whether or not you want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)
• What the DNR applies to. For example, “I do want to be resuscitated if my heart stops, but not if my breathing stops.
• Whether or not you want life support treatment
• What type of life support treatment you want, such as a ventilator to support breathing, feeding tube, blood transfusions, and surgery dialysis, etc.
• The person, if any, you want to make your medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated
• Whether you want to be an organ donor or not
Avoid Complications with an Advance Directive
It can be a great challenge for your loved ones to figure out what to do if you become incapacitated and you do not leave clear, legal instructions in the form of an advance directive. According to the American Psychological Association, “All end-of-life choices and medical decisions have complex psychosocial components, ramifications, and consequences that have a significant impact on suffering and the quality of living and dying.” It is best to take on these decisions before it is too late, and to help your family avoid further frustration and pain by not knowing what your true desires are.
An Estate Planning Attorney Is Here to Help
Whether you need to create an advance directive or update an existing directive or will, a lawyer can help. Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced estate attorney in Cherry Hill, NJ today.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and advance healthcare directives.