Estate planning includes thinking about the unthinkable. One such topic deals with who will make medical decisions for your if you fall into a coma and are unable to communicate. This is the time when an advance health care directive comes into play.
This legal document allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you in situations that may include those mentioned above as well as when seriously injured, terminally ill and in a vegetative state.
Your decisions followed
A health care directive includes decisions that you have made. Because of your foresight, you remain in control. An advance health care directive gives the necessary direction for doctors, caregivers and your family.
This legal document removes any confusion faced by family members, who struggle as to what to do. The advance health care directive also may help you avoid costly legal entanglements often pertaining to guardianship matters.
Durable power of attorney and living will
Here are two different types of advance health care directives:
- Durable power of attorney for health care matters: Also known as a health care proxy, this document allows you to choose a person to make medical and health care decisions on your behalf. Caring physicians only must speak with the person you chose to find out what your medical decisions are. The person you choose may be a family member, close friend or spouse, but make sure to talk with them beforehand to gauge their comfort level in this role.
- A living will: This document expresses your desire to decline medical treatment and other life-sustaining procedures if you have a terminal condition. It also would include directives regarding specific procedures that may include asking for maximum pain medication, resuscitation and organ donations. Make sure to provide copies of your living will to your physician as well as a close family member.
It is difficult to think of your own mortality. But you must make careful plans on this matter. Your family will be grateful knowing that such decisions are not up to them.
Building a foundation
How will your end-of-life decisions get made? With thoughtful planning, careful decision-making and the selection of the right trusted person, you have built a solid foundation.