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How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones With an Advanced Directive

Making medical decisions for loved ones can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll have to face. It’s even more difficult when individuals haven’t expressed their own choices and are now unable to communicate them for themselves.

Fortunately, you can establish an advanced directive as a way to prevent the issues related to the decisions that need to be made in the event of a medical emergency.

Advanced directives give you and your family peace of mind in knowing that all of your wishes are understood and followed accordingly.

Understanding Advanced Directives

An advanced directive is a legal document that lets you establish all of the health care provisions needed in the event that you’re unable to make those decisions yourself.

There are a number of advanced directives available including a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Each has unique functions that suit a variety of needs.

Living Will

A living will is the advanced directive that most people are familiar with. Living wills allow your physician to determine what medical interventions are withheld if you can’t make the necessary decisions related to your treatment.

You and a witness must sign this legal document, which is also referred to as a “declaration”. A living will cannot be interpreted by your family members. Only your physician is legally permitted to act upon the decisions outlined in your Living Will.

Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care

Like a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care document requires your signature and that of a witness. This legal document allows you to assign an individual to make the necessary medical decisions required if you’re unable to do so.

Your medical condition doesn’t have to be terminal in order for your assigned agent to make the necessary decisions, which gives you additional protection when you’re temporarily unable to make medical decisions.

Your assigned agent has all of the rights and responsibilities related to the application of any medical intervention. This requires you to fully disclose all of your instructions to this person when establishing your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Benefits of Your Advanced Directive

Establishing an advanced directive gives you a written and legal document that clearly articulates your preferences related to the most important decisions you may ever have to make.

It also provides your doctor with clear instructions that guide their work when treating you. This ensures that you get the appropriate treatment and care.

For your loved ones, an advanced directive is an effective way to prevent many of the common issues that arise including disagreements and confusion related to medical decisions.

Also, many family members experience feelings of guilt when making these decisions, which makes it hard to determine what the best option is for you. Advanced directives provide them with a way to confidently choose the appropriate intervention.

Your advanced directive should be thoroughly discussed with everyone involved before a medical crisis is underway. This provides you and your loved ones with the opportunity to address all possibilities and answer important questions.

Copies of your advanced directive should be provided to your assigned agent, family members, and friends. Your doctors should have a copy of this document so that they can easily access it when they need to.

Understanding the different types of advanced directives and the features of each makes it easy to choose the one that’s right for your needs.

An advanced directive provides many benefits to you and your family during a medical crisis. Having this document in place provides you with a sense of security in knowing that the right decisions will be made for your future.


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