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Advance Directives: Are You Ready in the Case of an Emergency?


You have the right to control your medical treatment, but what happens if you are unable to make decisions for yourself because of injury or illness? Fortunately, you also have the right to plan and give instructions about your preferred future health care by making an advance directive

What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive for health care is a legal document that states your choices about medical treatments you do or do not want. It may also name a person to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. This person is called your agent. Unless you specify otherwise, the agent only has authority once you become incapacitated. Anyone 18 years or older and of sound mind can make an advance directive.   

7 Reasons to Make an Advance Directive

  1. You can't predict when a serious medical situation might occur.
  2. You can spell out your desires for your care providers and ensure that your wishes are carried out even if you can't physically speak for yourself. 
  3. You can designate an agent to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. 
  4. You can think about critical medical issues when you have sufficient time and the ability to make good, thoughtful decisions. 
  5. You can give yourself and your loved ones peace of mind about future decisions.
  6. You can reduce conflict among family members and preserve family relationships.
  7. You can minimize stress for loved ones and relieve them of making decisions in a time of grief or crisis.

Who Should You Choose as Your Health Care Agent?

  • Someone who knows you well and will abide by your values and desires
  • Someone who will be comfortable discussing your medical treatment and end-of-life issues
  • Someone who will stand firm if an emotional disagreement arises

What Should You Do With Your Advance Directive?

Give a copy of your advance directive to your agent and provide a copy or access to your loved ones. Review your advance directive from time to time because you might want to revise your preferences if your situation or health changes. 

If you have questions about an advance directive or would like help tailoring one to suit your unique situation, please contact me or a member of our estate planning team.