Advance directives are a crucial component of end-of-life planning that every person should be familiar with. They are legally binding documents that outline a person’s wishes for their medical care in the event that they become unable to make decisions for themselves. We will discuss what advance directives are, why they’re important, and how you can create one for yourself.
What are Advance Directives?
Advance directives are a type of legal document that allows individuals to specify the medical treatments they do or do not want to receive in the event that they become incapacitated. There are two main types of advance directives: living wills and durable power of attorney for health care.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a document that outlines a person’s wishes for medical treatments in the event that they are unable to make decisions for themselves. It typically covers things like artificial life support, resuscitation, and organ donation.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney for health care, on the other hand, designates a person (known as the “health care agent”) to make decisions on behalf of the individual if they become unable to do so. This type of advance directive allows the designated person to make decisions based on the individual’s previously stated wishes and values.
Why are Advance Directives Important?
Advance directives are important because they ensure that an individual’s wishes for their medical care are respected even if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Also, without an advance directive, family members or healthcare providers who may not know the individual’s preferences may make medical decisions.
Advance directives also provide peace of mind to the individual and their loved ones. They remove the burden of decision-making from family members and healthcare providers during a difficult time and ensure that the individual’s wishes are carried out.
How to Create an Advance Directive
You can create an advance directive easily with the help of an attorney or online resources. When creating an advance directive, it’s important to consider the following:
- Your values and beliefs
- Your personal goals for medical care
- The type of medical treatments you would like to receive or refuse
- The person you would like to designate as your health care agent
- Talk with loved ones before an emergency. Treatment decisions can be tough and require careful thought. Once you have considered these factors, you can either create a living will or durable power of attorney for health care or both. It’s important to review and update your advance directive periodically to ensure that it accurately reflects your wishes.
What if You Don’t have an Advance Directive
If you don’t have an advance directive, others will decide your medical treatment if you can’t. This may lead to confusion and upset for those involved, who may not know your preferences.
Not having an advance directive can result in getting medical care you didn’t want or not getting care you did want. This can cause more hardship for you and stress for loved ones.
If there is no advance directive, a court-appointed guardian or state laws may make medical decisions. This can take a lot of time and cost money, and may not align with your values.
No advance directive means leaving your medical decisions to others. Significantly, this may mean risking your personal wishes not being followed. Creating one is a simple way to ensure your values are respected and give you peace of mind.
Advance directives are a critical component of end-of-life planning that every person should be familiar with. Outlining medical wishes with an advance directive ensures that your wishes will be respected if you’re unable to make decisions. More importantly, it relieves loved ones of difficult decision-making during tough times.
Where to find an Advance Directive for Your State
The U.S. Will Registry has advance directive forms readily accessible on the internet.