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The Importance of Advanced Directives

contract showing healthcare and power of attorney

Advance directives refer to any legal documents that explicitly state your decisions regarding your end-of-life care and other decisions should you be unable to do so. These documents are designed specifically to handle situations where an individual, for whatever reason, can no longer make their own decisions regarding their health. A famous example of the importance of advanced directives would be the Florida case of Terri Schiavo court battle where Ms. Schiavo’s end-of-life wishes were unknown (no advanced directive in place).

In addition to relaying your wishes, advanced directives also serve to provide peace of mind to your family and friends that they know what you would have wanted. End-of-life decisions can be equally heartbreaking and difficult for your loved ones, so having your wishes dictated and legally binding can help with those burdens while respecting your wishes.

Living Will

A living will be viewed as a legal “in case of emergency, break glass” order since the document only starts working when a person becomes unable to make their own decisions, yet they may need immediate life-saving methods.

Living wills can state how far medical professionals can go to prolong the life of a given individual. For example, you can request that dialysis and breathing machines but refuse tube feedings and enforce a do-not-resuscitate order.

Depending on the state laws, the medical professionals overseeing the care of an unresponsive person with a Living Will confirm the person cannot make medical decisions and their Living Will will specify what life-saving techniques are to be implemented.

Health Care Directive

A health care directive is type of legal document that appoints one person (your proxy) to make any of your health care decisions if you have suffered a situation that makes you unable to relay your exact medical decisions to health care professionals.

Essentially, a health care directive can be seen as appointing a trusted agent to represent your interests when you’re unavailable to discuss your health situation. As your proxy, the appointed agent possesses the same rights you would have to accept or refuse the treatments being offered by the medical professionals.

When choosing a proxy, you must consider a candidate that will respect your medical wishes and has the will to see them enacted. This can be a challenging task, so the proxy in question must have your trust to see a difficult task through to the end.

Power of Attorney

If you want a directive with added muscle, you can choose power of attorney. In addition to medical decisions, this advanced directive allows you to appoint a proxy that can also make business decisions on your behalf.  A durable power of attorney grants an individual the ability to sign checks, apply for aid, engage in banking transactions, and take responsibility for their interests.

As with choosing a proxy, you need to exercise great care when selecting an individual for this task. That person needs to be trustworthy and capable of seeing your wishes don’t get vetoed by other interested parties. You can also impose limits on the Power of Attorney when preparing it.

For further questions regarding advanced directives, contact Naples Estate Planning Attorney Jim Nici at (239) 449-6150 today.

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