What happens if you become medically incapacitated somehow, unable to speak or to voice your preferences about the type of care you receive? Ideally, this question will be answered by your advance healthcare directive. This important estate planning document outlines the types of care you do or do not wish to receive, specifically answering questions about whether you wish to be resuscitated, if and when you desire to be placed on life support systems, and more.
Anyone can benefit from having an advance healthcare directive in place. The question is, how do you create one? Generally, the best option is to meet with an advance directive attorney, who can help craft a document that fully captures your true wishes. Alternatively, you may wish to try drafting an advance directive on your own.
How to Create an Advance Healthcare Directive
If you do wish to create a document on your own, here are a few steps we would recommend.
Understand the Options
First, be aware that there are many types of estate planning documents that you can use to outline your end-of-life wishes, or to assign decision-making abilities to someone you know and trust. Advance care directives, living wills, powers of attorney… these documents are not identical, but they do similar things. Consider your directive power of attorney options and talk with a directive power of attorney expert if you’re unsure of which document is right for you.
Get the Forms You Need
No matter what kind of estate planning document you decide to create, you’ll need to collect the appropriate form from the local government. Forms differ from one state to the next, but you can usually locate them quite easily with a simple Google search.
Fill Out the Forms
Fill out the forms that are required for your estate planning document, making sure to abide by any witnessing requirements that your state requires.
As you consider what to include in your document, think about some of the following issues:
- Do you wish to receive CPR if your heart stops?
- If you can no longer breathe on your own, do you wish to be placed on a breathing machine?
- If your kidneys cease working, do you wish to be placed on a dialysis machine?
- If you can no longer eat or drink, do you wish to receive support from a feeding tube?
- Do you wish to receive medications to stop serious infections?
Note Your Healthcare Agent
Depending on the type of advance care directive you choose, you may or may not need to name someone as your agent. This person may be called upon to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to speak up for yourself. Choose this person wisely, and make sure you let them know that you’re naming them to this important function.
Get a few copies of your estate planning document, and provide copies to family members, to your healthcare agent (if applicable), and to your doctor. You might also wish to keep a copy for yourself, placing it somewhere safe but also accessible.
Meet with an Advance Directive Attorney
To ensure that your document is legally sound, and that it fully captures your true wishes, we do recommend meeting with a lawyer.
At Singh Law Firm, we are happy to advise you on what type of advance healthcare directive attorney you need. We can also create these documents for you, and file them appropriately. We would love to tell you more about our services in estate planning and welcome you to contact us at your next opportunity.