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Advance Health Care Directives

It can be difficult to think about a future where you are not in the best health; however, making a plan with advance health care directives can ensure your wishes are carried out. If you are not in the best physical or mental health, you may be unable to tell your family, friends, and medical providers what kind of medical care you want in specific situations. However, with careful planning and creation of legal documents, you can establish your wishes. Doing so will also relieve the pressure on your loved ones who would otherwise have to make those decisions for you.

A skilled attorney can help you develop advance health care directives that properly convey your wishes to your loved ones. Call Herbert Law Office today. We can guide you through the process of creating advance health care directives.

What Are Advance Health Care Directives?

Advance health care directives are legal documents that provide guidance to your family, friends, and medical providers regarding your health care in situations where you are not able to convey your wishes. If you are physically or mentally incapacitated, advanced health care directives can describe your wishes regarding your medical care to others. They “advanced” because you create them in advance of the situation when you need them. They deal with health care and provide directives, or instructions about your medical care. Advanced health care directives can be utilized by anyone. They ensure that your wishes are carried out in difficult medical situations.

What Is a Health Care Agent?

Your advance health care directives may give another person the responsibility to make decisions for you regarding your medical care when you’re unable to convey your wishes. That person is a health care agent, which may also be called the following names:

  • Agent
  • Attorney-in-fact
  • Proxy
  • Patient advocate
  • Surrogate

Advance health care directives may use any of these terms to name a person who will make medical decisions on your behalf.

If you do not choose someone to serve as your health care agent, someone who is unaware of your wishes may make decisions if you’re incapacitated. Doctors, residential care facility employees, and other medical care providers may make decisions for people when they are incapacitated.

Types of Advance Health Care Directives

There are different types of advance health care directives that can convey your wishes to your loved ones when you are no longer able to. An attorney can help you develop these documents so that they are legal and enforceable in case someone challenges them. Herbert Law Office can help you with the following:

Living Wills

A living will is different from a traditional will, which distributes assets after death. Instead, a living will provides information about your health care wishes while you are alive. Some may also refer to a living will as a “declaration.” It declares what type of medical care you would like and when.

You must prepare these documents in advance to provide health care directions if you’re unable to speak for yourself.  In a living will, you may specify what type of medical treatment you do want. You can also delineate the types you do not want in specific situations. For example, you can direct doctors when they should and should not “pull the plug,” if you are not responsive.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Another of the advance health care directives documents is a durable medical power of attorney. This document allows you to name a person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to communicate with health care providers. The person you select may be referred to as an “attorney-in-fact.”

You may use a durable power of attorney for health care may in combination with a living will. Your attorney-in-fact would oversee your medical care. He or she would also make sure the wishes you stated in your living will are carried out. In addition, your attorney-in-fact will be able to make decisions about any medical issue you did not plan for in your living will.

It’s important that you trust the person you name in your durable medical power of attorney. They will have control over your medical care in a situation where you’re unable to make decisions on your own. Of course, you can also provide instructions through a living will. However, your attorney-in-fact may have to make many medical decisions on your behalf.

A Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You

If you have questions about what will happen to you if you become incapacitated, work with an attorney who is knowledgeable about advance health care directives. These documents can give you control over your medical care in the event that you are not able to communicate your wishes with health care providers. Call Herbert Law Office to find out more about advance health care directives.

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