Do You Have an Advance Medical Directive?
So many unexpected things can happen in life, and due to the very nature of being unexpected, we often aren’t prepared for them. That’s why it’s so important to plan for at least the most important possibilities, such as situations like medical emergencies. If you’re ever incapacitated due to illness or injury, would your loved ones know what to do regarding your personal decisions and finances?
If you’re wondering whether you need an advance medical directive, the answer is yes. Almost anyone should consider taking this step, but especially those over 60 or so, who are more likely to experience an incapacitating medical event.
In the event that you need family members to step in and make healthcare and other decisions, considerable difficulties can arise. They might not all agree on a course of action, they might feel stressed or guilty about making decisions, and they might simply make decisions that go against your wishes or values. An advance medical directive removes all of these obstacles, by spelling out your particular wishes in detail. Your directive can detail your preferences regarding resuscitation, pain relief, end-of-life care, artificial feeding, and so on.
In fact, your plan can actually be quite multi-faceted.
A durable power of attorney designates someone to handle your business and financial affairs.
A living will instructs family members and doctors on the type of care you do and do not want in an emergency.
A healthcare proxy is a person that you designate to make all of these decisions for you, as they present themselves. This person should be someone whose values and judgement you trust, and with whom you have had conversations regarding your own values. This designation is less specific than a living will, so choose this person carefully.
And yes, you can choose different people to fill each role. This can help you to avoid over burdening one particular person, or to avoid any conflicts of interest that might arise. Meet with an estate planning attorney to draw up your advance medical directive, and put your mind at ease.