VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

What is an advance healthcare directive?

Benjamin Franklin famously claimed that "nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Estate planning, in fact, addresses both of what this founding father believed to be inevitable. Not only does your estate plan include finances and tax strategy to help your beneficiaries, but it can also determine the events in your final moments.

Your plan could include an Advance Healthcare Directive (also called Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment), which helps your loved ones and doctors make critical decisions about your health. If you were unable to express your own wishes, this document will ensure that you will receive care that matches your requests. Many people find comfort in knowing exactly what will happen ahead of time.

Although adults of any age can create a directive, certain conditions can prompt patients to consider this more closely. A diagnosis of terminal illness or Alzheimer's disease often creates an opportunity to discuss the future. When you are unconscious or mentally unable to make healthcare choices, your medical providers will refer to your most recent directive.

Inside your directive, you can determine how doctors should respond if you need IV, feeding tubes, CPR or mechanic breathing to stay alive. Unless you legally state otherwise, medical staff will use these treatments to extend your life if possible. Doctors and nurses can also check the document to see if you want medication and religious support. In addition, you can choose someone you love or trust to make these decisions on your behalf, described as the "power of attorney."

What an Advance Healthcare Directive does not control is funeral preferences. If you have certain wishes regarding burial, cremation, religious services and organ or body donations, you will most likely record these in a separate document or will.

An attorney can help you complete an Advance Healthcare Directive along with other estate planning matters. While this directive can give you peace of mind, it can also help your family make these difficult decisions and know that your wishes were respected.

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