Planning for illness or incapacity may feel unnecessary while you are healthy. Most people delay planning for incapacity as long as possible. Unfortunately, accident or injury can occur at any age or fitness level. It is important to put safeguards in place not only to protect yourself, but also to protect your family.
An advanced health care directive is a document that tells medical professionals and family members what to do if you become incapacitated with a terminal condition. It includes a statement that dictates your values, beliefs and preferences for care and treatment. While the document is not required for medical care, it does ensure that your health care wishes are established, even when you are unable to express your preferences.
Defining your preferences for life-sustaining treatment
The most common reason to establish an advanced health care directive is to define your preferences for life-sustaining treatment. The document can also name a health care representative to act on your behalf. These detailed instructions can prevent strangers or undesirable parties, like medical professionals or estranged relatives, from making decisions on your behalf.
This legal document also shields your family in the event that you become incapacitated. If your medical treatment wishes are unknown, then your relatives must make difficult decisions with your best interests in mind. This can induce stress and potential conflict among family members. An advanced health care directive can make matters easier for your loved ones during an already difficult time. An estate planning attorney can assist you in drafting a unique advanced health care directive, tailored to your preferences.