Create Your Medical Directive Before It’s Too Late
When you become unable to make your own health-related decisions, someone else will – and it may not be to your liking. You can take charge of those decisions if you’ve created a medical directive. It’s one of the essential tools of estate planning.
A medical directive may encompass different documents each directed to a different health-related condition. The exact documents depend on your state’s laws and the choices you make. Let’s see what such documents address.
The Health Care Proxy
Similar to a power of attorney, a health care proxy allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent for medical – as opposed to financial – decisions. It must be executed by you when you’re competent and gives another person of your choice the authority to make health care decisions for you if you’re unable to communicate your decision. Executing a health care proxy ensures your instructions will be carried out.
A health care proxy takes effect only when you require medical treatment and your physician determines that you can’t communicate your wishes concerning treatment.
The Living Will
A Living will gives your instructions regarding treatment when you become terminally ill or are in a persistent vegetative state and unable to communicate. It states under what conditions your life-sustaining treatment should be terminated. If you don’t want life-sustaining treatment when recovery is hopeless, you need to draw up a living will.
Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)
A DNR says that if you are having a medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke, medical professionals may not try to revive you. This is very different from a living will which only goes into effect if you are in a vegetative state. Everyone can benefit from a living will while DNRs are only for very elderly or frail patients for whom it wouldn’t make sense to resuscitate.
For convenience you may create a single document that includes all or some of these directives.
It’s easy to put off creating these. You can save much heartache by doing it now.