Estate planning is all about preparing for the future. Part of that has to do with setting your financial affairs in order, and part of it is concerned with providing a guardian for your children, should you and the other parent both die. An aspect of estate planning that’s far too often ignored is planning for your own healthcare concerns; an advance healthcare directive is one document that allows you to do just that.
What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?
An advance healthcare directive is a form you can fill out that outlines the kind of medical care you’d like to receive should you ever need it, and should you be unable to speak for yourself. For example, you could sustain an injury or a disease that leaves you incapacitated in some way, and doctors will need to know your wishes with regard to medication, feeding tubes, respirators, and beyond. Healthcare directives allow you to outline your desires.
Different Kinds of Healthcare Directive
There are two basic types of healthcare directive to know about; of course, your advance directive attorney can help clarify which one is best for you (you may also wish to have both).
- First, there’s the living will, which basically outlines your wishes with regard to end-of-life treatment; again, this makes your wishes known, should you be in a position where you cannot speak for yourself.
- There is also the healthcare power of attorney, which allows you to name a person as your legal representative, giving them the authority to make your healthcare decisions for you should you be incapacitated in any way.
A key point to keep in mind is that, so long as you can make your own healthcare decisions, these documents will not take effect. If you can speak up and say yes or no to any treatment, these directives are not binding.
Writing a Healthcare Directive
As for the steps to creating these documents, here are our recommendations.
- The first step is to obtain the directive power of attorney form that has been approved by your state. There are also some universal forms that have been approved in most states. Note that doctors typically respect any legal directive power of attorney form or living will, even if you’ve moved to a new state, etc.
- Choose the agent who you will name as your healthcare representative. Make sure you talk with this person, make sure they consent to bring your representative, and communicate with them about your wishes and values.
- Fill out the forms; this may be where you wish to have an attorney present. Also note that some states will require you to have a witness present and/or to have the form notarized. This is where having an attorney can be handy.
- Provide a copy of your relevant forms to your family members as well as to your doctors.
Also be aware that you may wish to make changes to your documents over the years. Of course, these forms can be updated at any time; just speak with your attorney to verify the changes.
Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer
Do you have further questions? Or are you ready to speak with an estate planning attorney? Singh Law Firm is here to consult on any and all living will or healthcare directive needs. To speak with a lawyer from our firm, reach out to us today and schedule an appointment.