Many of us simply assume that our loved ones know what to do once “the time comes,” and we find ourselves medically incapacitated. However, your end-of-life wishes should never be left to chance. Your loved ones may not know your preferences, and the last thing you want is to leave them faced with agonizing decisions and heightened uncertainty.
One way to avoid all of this is by ensuring that you include an advance health care directive as part of your estate plan. Essentially, this is a legal document that summarizes some of your wishes regarding life support care and other issues related to medical treatment.
An estate planning lawyer can help you draft this important document, and ensure that it hits on all the important topics. In doing so, you will provide clarity and peace of mind, both for yourself and for your loved ones.
What to Include in Your Advance Health Care Directive: The Essentials
Advance health care directives may look a little bit different from one person to the next. With that said, there are a few pieces of information that you’ll always wish to include. Some of these advance health care directive essentials are as follows:
- Your health care agent or proxy. You will likely wish to appoint someone who can speak for you, and make decisions in your stead, when you are medically unable to speak for yourself. Make sure you include that person’s name and contact information.
- Care preferences. You will also want to answer some key questions about if and when you wish to be placed on life support systems, if and when you desire to be removed from those systems, etc. The specifics will vary by state, so make sure you double-check with your estate planning lawyer that you are covering everything you need to.
- Witnesses. In many states, you will need to collect names and signatures from a few folks who witness you signing your health care directive. Again, your estate planning lawyer can advise you on the specific requirements of your state.
- Notarization. Some states will also require the signature and seal of a notary. Your estate planning lawyer can guide you here.
What to Include in Your Advance Health Care Directive: Other Options
There are a few other items you may wish to include in your advance health care directive. Some examples include:
- More detailed information about the types of procedures and interventions you would like to receive, as well as details about the procedures and interventions you would like to avoid.
- More general statements about your values when it comes to end-of-life care, such as your views on what makes life worth living, what a dignified death looks like, etc.
- Personal preferences for your body disposition.
- A list of the people who cannot make health care decisions for you. (Do not leave any room for ambiguity here! Remember, you don’t want anything that would cause tension between your family members.)
For guidance about what to include in your advance health care directive, and about how best to articulate it, it’s imperative to seek guidance from an experienced estate planning lawyer. For those who live in the Fremont, CA area, we welcome you to reach out to Singh Law Firm at any time.
Schedule an Appointment at Singh Law Firm
Singh Law Firm is a trusted provider of advanced estate planning. We have worked with countless individuals and families from throughout the area, and are especially well-versed in advance health care directives. To schedule a consultation appointment, reach out to our practice at any time.