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The role of an advance health care directive in a will

Originally posted on 11/02/2016

A legal document with the heading Advance Health Care Directive form - a specific type of will - sits on top of a US flag.When considering estate planning, you are probably aware of the role of a will. While the traditional thought associated with a will is how property is handled after death, it can also be used to plan for medical treatment if you cannot make decisions for yourself. This element within a will is called an advance health care directive. Keep reading to learn more about how last will and testaments can help you protect yourself in the case of a medical emergency. 

The Benefits of a Last Will for Medical Purposes

More than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. do not have an advance directive. Without one, your doctor and loved ones may be forced to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf without knowing your wishes. You can ease the burden of grief on your family by outlining your healthcare plan in a will.

An advance directive is not legally binding to a doctor, but it does allow him or her and your loved ones reassurance that they are acting in your interest. Likewise, you should discuss your advance health care directive with your family, primary care physician, and an estate attorney.

Three types of advance health care directives

Your religious beliefs and personal philosophy can be the basis for an advance health care directive. There are no hard 'right or wrong' rules associated with end-of-life care. Therefore, three types of advance health care directives can be included in your will. You can use just one or a combination of all three to suit your needs.

"Living Will"

This document outlines your medical wishes for life-saving treatment in the event of a terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. An example of a situation would be you falling into a coma. It is the principal element of an advance health care directive.

A Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney gives a loved one or another trusted person of your choosing the legal ability to make decisions on your behalf. The person entrusted with power of attorney can also ensure that your living will is carried out to meet your wishes.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order

A DNR order is used to allow first responders and care providers to know your wishes if an emergency medical event were to occur in or outside of the hospital. Medical responders are required to give you life-saving care. If you do not want life-sustaining treatment, you may need a DNR form or bracelet required by your state.

Make Your Wishes Clear with a Qualified Legal Professional

Outlining end-of-life care is a tough conversation to have with your loved ones, but it can save them from more heartache if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. An estate attorney can help you start this conversation. The attorneys at Aldrich Legal Services have more than 21 years of experience working with clients to form the most accurate and valid wills. Give our team a call today to set up an appointment. 

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