4 Things An Advance Directive Should Address
Advance directives refer to legal documents that address your healthcare and how it will proceed in the event that you are not physically or mentally capable of guiding it yourself. While this is not a pleasant topic of conversation, it is an important element of your estate planning that can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your intentions will guide your medical care in the event that it becomes necessary. There are four types of advance directives that can play distinct and important roles in your healthcare planning, and if you are ready to address the issue –or are interested in learning more –the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC (512-505-2753) have a wealth of experience in this arena and are here to help.
The Two Primary Forms of Advance Directives
Of the four types of advance directives, there are two primary categories.
A living will refers to a legal document that specifically addresses any medical preferences you may have, including:
- Those medical treatments, care, and procedures you would want to help keep you alive
- Those medical treatments, care, and procedures you would not want to help keep you alive
- Your preferences related to additional medical decisions, such as pain management and organ donation
While these are difficult matters to ponder, your living will addresses your unique values and your personal choices as they relate to your own medical care. Asking yourself the following questions will give you a better idea about what a living will can entail:
- How critical is your independence and self-sufficiency to you?
- Are there any medical circumstances that you would not want to endure?
- Do you want to extend your life regardless of the medical treatment necessary?
- Are you interested in medical treatment only if there is a possibility of a cure?
If you have strong feelings on matters such as these, they should be clearly addressed in your living will.
Medical Power of Attorney
The second primary form of advance directive is the medical power of attorney, which grants decision-making power to someone whom you trust to act as your proxy (called the agent or the attorney-in-fact). This advance directive allows you to choose someone who will make difficult medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapable of doing so due to physical and/or mental incapacitation. Two important points to keep in mind regarding medical power of attorney include the following:
- Your medical power of attorney will delineate those decisions your attorney-in-fact will be responsible for making (relevant laws may also put constraints on the matter). In other words, a medical power of attorney will not necessarily give the attorney-in-fact named carte blanche to make any and every healthcare decision on your behalf.
- The services of your attorney-in-fact will not come into play unless a doctor who is qualified to do so determines that there is a need (that you are not capable of making sound decisions on your own behalf).
Choosing the right attorney-in-fact for you requires you to select someone whom you trust completely, but it is more complicated than that. If you deny life-saving medical interventions, it can be especially difficult for a loved one to implement such a decision.
The Texas Hospital Association addresses the four types of advance directives, and in addition to the two primary forms, there are two more specific types.
Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order
The out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate order allows adults who are competent to do so to refuse specific kinds of medical help in situations when healthcare professionals are called to assist (in non-hospital settings that include Emergency Rooms and outpatient facilities). To ensure that your wishes are upheld, it is critical that you keep a copy of your written order on you –or wear an identification bracelet that identifies your intentions.
Declaration of Mental Health Treatment
The declaration of mental health treatment is a highly specific document that allows a court to determine whether or not you are incapacitated and when your declaration will become effective. This advance directive can consent to or deny the use of electroconvulsive therapy and/or the use of psychoactive drugs. Unless you are incapacitated at the time, this declaration will expire in three years.
The Four Things Your Advance Directive Should Address
Your advance directive is an important and powerful tool that should not be entered into lightly and that should address the following specific factors (as applicable):
- Your advance directive should address who will be making important healthcare decisions on your behalf.
- Your advance directive should specifically address your wishes and intentions regarding your medical care, including any potentially life-saving medical interventions that you would reject or accept in the event that the need to do so should arise.
- Your medical directive should include detailed specifics that address any parameters you are placing on the decision-making power of your attorney-in-fact.
- Your advance directive should factor in all related laws to help ensure that it upholds your wishes and intentions regarding these sensitive and very personal matters.
Do Not Wait To Consult With an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney
In the event that you are unable to make sound healthcare decisions on your own behalf, an advance directive allows you to guide how these decisions will be made. Advance directives are complicated legal tools that are only effective when given the careful consideration they deserve from the outset.
There are four types of advance directives that can each play a distinct role in your estate planning (your medical directive is a critical element of your overall plan). These are serious concerns that require serious legal attention, and the accomplished Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have the compassion, concern, and legal insight to help you move forward with the peace mind you are looking for. To learn more about advance directives and to discuss your personal needs, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.