What Is an “Advance Directive?”

Some legal documents do not seem to make much sense unless you fully understand the purpose they afford. When it comes time to consider a medical procedure, you may start hearing the term advance directive thrown around at the doctor’s office or hospital. This type of document should be something you consider creating before you find yourself being admitted to the hospital. Incorporating advance directives into an estate plan is one way to assure yourself that the right person is in charge of getting your wishes fulfilled at a vulnerable time.

The Function of an Advance Directive

In the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself, a document called an “advance directive” would kick in. This legally binding instrument authorizes a person of your choosing to take action and make decisions on your behalf. One of the most compelling reasons you should consider creating one or more of these documents is that it gives you the power to choose the person you feel can act in accordance with your wishes. Since advance directives trigger during emotionally trying times, they help ensure that someone with a level head will heed your wishes and do what is best for you.

A Living Will

A standard advance directive document is the living will. It is created to document your future healthcare choices for the time when you cannot express them yourself. This is usually used as you near the end stage of life due to a terminal disease; however, it may become active if you are involved in a severe accident. In a living will you want to set forth the measures you want medical personnel to take to keep you alive. You may express your desire to prolong your life by life-saving treatments such as respirators and life support. In this document, you may also express your wish to be removed from these types of machines should your condition become incurable.

A Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney allows a designated representative to make medical choices when you cannot. This may be due to being incapacitated or mental competence. Your representative can consult with the medical team and make decisions based on those you have either expressed orally or memorialized in writing.

You should always check with a lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer from Wiseman Bray Attorneys, or a medical professional to find out what state laws dictate the information required in any advance directive you have prepared. Following state laws will help ensure that someone does not have the grounds to challenge any type of advance directive you create.

Posted on January 14, 2021 @ 8:15 pm

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