An Advance Health Care Directive (Advance Directive) is a legal document where you outline the type of medical treatment you want in the event you are unable to make these decisions yourself at the time. This is an important part of your foundational estate planning. You want to be sure that you’re covered both during your lifetime and upon your death. Your advance health care directive covers you during lifetime.
An Advance Health Care Directive Document has 2 parts:
- Medical Power of Attorney – This is a special power of attorney for health care where you name a trusted person as your “health care agent” to make your medical decisions if you cannot for yourself. You also nominate alternate health care agents. Usually the authority is quite broad so that your health care agent may make any medical decision on your behalf if you cannot for yourself. This does not grant authority for financial decisions. For that you need a durable power of attorney.
- Living Will – This is where you outline the type and level of medical care you want during your lifetime. For example, you may outline that if you want to receive the best medical care possible, however you want life support removed if you don’t have reasonable hope of recovery. Or you may specify that you want to be kept on life support as long as possible. It’s up to you. A “living will” should not be confused with your last will and testament. The living will declares your wishes for medical care and your last will and testament primarily outlines how you want your estate divided upon your death.
An Advance Health Care Directive is a crucial part of your foundational estate planning. Without it, your loved ones and medical providers may face challenges knowing how you want to be cared for. They may not agree on how to care for you which can cause emotional challenges, confusion, conflict, and unnecessary expense. You can clarify your health care wishes and choose trusted people to carry them out. Peace of mind by simply planning ahead.