Advanced directive, healthcare directive, living will. No matter what you call it, this document is an essential component of your estate plan (no matter your age!) and oftentimes a challenging one because of the emotional weight involved in these decisions. However, taking the time to carefully plan the details for this document will safeguard your autonomy and ensure your healthcare wishes are respected if/when you are unable to communicate them for yourself. It also can serve as a support to the loved ones tasked with making these sensitive decisions.
Here are some tips as you consider your healthcare wishes:
- Educate Yourself: Before diving into adding details to your healthcare directive, take the time to learn about the different medical treatments and procedures available to you. Understanding your options for life-sustaining treatments, resuscitation, and palliative care will help you make informed choices. During this research stage, get input from a healthcare professional and learn about the nuanced decisions you’ll need to make. Doing your research on the front end means you’ll feel confident in your decisions.
- Choose a Trusted Healthcare Agent: Selecting a reliable and trusted person to be your healthcare agent is essential. This is the person who will be responsible for advocating for your medical preferences and making sure your wishes are followed. Make sure your agent understands your values and beliefs surrounding healthcare decisions and is willing to carry out your directives in difficult situations. Discuss your wishes, goals, hopes and fears around end-of-life and health care with the person you want to appoint and ensure they are comfortable and confident with the responsibility.
- Keep the Document Updated: Life circumstances and healthcare needs can change over time, so it’s essential to review and update your healthcare directive regularly. If you experience a significant life event, such as a marriage, divorce, or the death of your healthcare agent, make sure to revise your document accordingly. Keeping it current ensures that it accurately reflects your updated values and wishes, providing the best possible guidance to your healthcare team. If you’re not sure if your document needs to be updated, reach out to an attorney at Schromen Law. We’re happy to help!
- Communicate with Family and Healthcare Providers: Creating a healthcare directive is just the first step. It is equally important to communicate your decisions with your family members, close friends, and healthcare providers. Let your loved ones know about the existence of your directive and the role of your healthcare agent and get updated copies distributed to your healthcare providers. Openly discussing your medical preferences will alleviate any potential conflicts or misunderstandings during critical moments and give your loved ones the confidence that they are fulfilling your wishes.
- Be Specific in Your Wishes: While your healthcare directive document itself might be quite general, you may want to add extra wishes that are clear and specific about your medical preferences and end-of-life care. For example, stating your preferences regarding life support, resuscitation, pain management, organ donation, burial, etc. can help your family make decisions on your behalf. You can also clearly state other specific details. What kind of music would you prefer to be played during your end-of-life care? Who should be allowed to visit you? With your health care agent making medical decisions on your behalf, it can also be helpful to provide guidance on your broader goals, fears, hopes and concerns around health care and/or end-of-life care.
Writing additional wishes to go along with your healthcare directive is an act of self-empowerment and compassion for yourself and your loved ones. Taking this proactive step can bring peace of mind and comfort during challenging times and will allow you to retain control over your healthcare choices even when you cannot express them yourself. And if you’d like extra guidance and assistance during this process, Schromen Law is here for you with our writing services. We will guide you through a questionnaire, discuss the nuances, and do the writing for you.
Reach out to learn more about these services today!
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.