Friday, October 24, 2014

The One Document Everyone Should Have

What is an Advance Medical Directive and why should I want one?

Let’s say, heaven forbid, you are in a car accident and lose the ability to communicate. You are being kept alive only with the use of a respirator. Your family is divided about whether they should wait to see if you can recover, at a great expense, or allow you to die naturally and move on. This is certainly not a pleasant scenario to imagine, but it is unfortunately all too common.

An Advance Medical Directive can help avoid potential conflicts from arising, by giving advance direction to, your family, your doctor, and others about your intentions regarding medical care.

An Advance Medical Directive is typically drafted by an attorney as part of your estate plan. It outlines your wishes regarding such decisions as, whether you want to be kept alive by extraordinary means such as respirators or other medical technology, whether you wish to donate organs, whether you wish particular ethical and moral standards to be used in determining medical decisions for you, etc.

This takes the heavy burden of making key decisions about your health off of your loved ones and provides a clear path for health professionals to follow when you cannot communicate your wishes directly.

An Advance Medical Directive also typically names a health-care proxy or agent, a person, often a loved one, who stands in your place to make authorized decisions on your behalf regarding medical treatment decisions when you are incapacitated.

This is closely related to a Durable Power of Attorney, which we will discuss in a later post.

It is never too early to get an Advance Medical Directive in place. Talk to your loved ones. Discuss the type of treatments you may want in the future. Make these decisions now so that should calamity arise, you and your loved ones are prepared.

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