Advance Directives are essential for incapacity planning.
Imagine the worst case scenario.
That pickup truck just ran the red light.
There has been an accident.
You are incapacitated.
Your loved ones have shown up to the hospital.
According to a recent WRAL article titled “Advance directives lift burden of tough decisions at end of life,” this situation is all too common.
Who will answer the doctors?
What will they say?
How will you know your wishes have been followed?
Your advanced health care directive.
What is that?
In our practice, the advance health care directive consists of three documents.
First, a health care treatment directive provides guidance regarding the health care you would want withheld or withdrawn under various life threatening scenarios.
Second, a durable power of attorney for health care decisions empowers and appoints trusted agents to carry out your health care instructions and “go to bat” for you when your health enters an unanticipated “grey area” not specifically covered in those instructions.
This document also specifically authorizes your agents to access you Personal Health Information (PHI) under HIPAA. Consequently, they may fully communicate with your physicians and others regarding your health care matters and obtain your medical records. Our practice is to have that authority commence upon executing the advance health care directive so there is no quibbling later on concerning when that authority is to commence.
Third, and finally, we include an anatomical gift declaration as part of the advance health care directive. This is an incredibly difficult decision your loved ones might face, so addressing the decisions in writing now can save them a great deal of heartache later.
Once you have executed your advance health care directive is your job done?
Organize your estate plan and let your agents know where they kind find your advance health care directive and the rest of your legal documents.
You should also discuss your wishes with and provide copies to your agents and physicians.
How many agents should you appoint?
Well, that depends on your unique circumstances.
Some folks appoint multiple agents in a “batting order” priority.
Personally, I appointed Gretchen as my primary and then each of my three adult daughters as my secondary agents in my own advance health care directive. I trust each of my daughters with my care decisions individually, and so noted that in my directive, but I also provided that “my preference would be for them to act together when practical under the circumstances.”
When it comes to decisions of such moment, no one truly relishes being the Lone Ranger.
As you age, your situation may change.
Therefore, you should review and update your advance health care directive because incapacity can strike at any time.
By taking the time to set up your advance health care directive, you will be giving your loved ones peace of mind.
Reference: WRAL (Sep. 18, 2019) “Advance directives lift burden of tough decisions at end of life”