By thinking ahead and communicating treatment preferences early on, you can prevent arguments and spare those closest to you the anxiety of having to guess your wishes. Most importantly, you will have the opportunity to make very personal health care decisions for yourself.
Putting Preferences in Writing
To record your medical preferences, you will need to complete written documents called advance directive forms. There are two types of advance directives, and it’s important to have both:
1) A living will spells out what types of medical treatment a person wants at the end of life if he’s unable to speak for himself. It tells medical professionals a person’s wishes regarding specific decisions, such as whether to accept mechanical ventilation.
2) A health care power of attorney appoints someone to make health care decisions — and not just decisions regarding life-prolonging treatments — on one’s behalf. The appointed health care agent (also called an attorney-in-fact or proxy) becomes the patient’s spokesman and advocate on a range of medical treatments the patient sets out in the document. Of course, the health care agent makes decisions only when the patient can’t communicate on his own. This type of document is sometimes referred to as a health care proxy, appointment of a health care agent or durable power of attorney for health care. It is different from a regular durable power of attorney, which typically covers only financial matters.
Often, the two documents can be combined into one form.
The person you appoint as your health care agent should know you well and be willing to carry out the your directions regardless of personal feelings or influence from family and friends.
Planning for medical decisions without knowing what issues might arise isn’t easy, but it’s the responsible, compassionate thing to do for one’s family. And when the time comes, knowing your wishes will give your loved ones peace of mind.
Reynolds Law Group can draft a living will and/or healthcare power of attorney for you. Just use the Contact Form to get started.