Life is filled with uncertainties, and nobody knows when it’s time to bite the dust. Dying without any form of estate planning entails financial and relationship troubles. Without a plan, your family and loved ones will make difficult decisions for you.
An advance medical directive is an estate planning tool you can use to decide on your future medical care. An advanced directive includes your preferred treatment, do-not-resuscitate orders, and more.
By having an advance medical directive, you can ensure that your wishes are followed and that you receive the care you want. It also takes the burden off of your loved ones, who will no longer have to guess how you would decide for yourself.
What Is an Advanced Medical Directive?
This legally-binding document allows you to specify your medical treatment preferences if you cannot communicate them yourself. It includes your preferences for both life-sustaining measures and end-of-life care.
An advance medical directive allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, and it gives them the authority to do so. It also instructs your medical providers about the care you do or do not want to receive.
Creating an advance medical directive is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. It provides peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will follow your wishes if something happens to you.
Is an Advance Medical Directive an Estate Planning Tool?
Estate planning is making arrangements for your property and affairs for someone to manage if you become incapacitated or die. An advance medical directive is one of the estate planning tools you can use as part of your estate plan.
The Different Types of Advance Directives
There are different types of advance directives, including:
A living will is an advanced medical directive that deals with end-of-life care. It spells out what kind of medical treatment you would or would not want to receive if you were terminally ill or vegetative.
A living will activate if you cannot communicate your wishes yourself. It is used to guide your loved ones and medical providers in making decisions about your care, such as medications, pain management, organ donation, and life support.
MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
A medical power of attorney, also called a durable power of attorney for health care, is a type of advance directive that appoints someone to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. A physician must determine that you cannot make your own decisions before they can use the medical power of attorney.
Depending on the state, the appointed person is also known as the healthcare proxy, agent, or representative. They are typically a spouse, partner, child, or close friend responsible for ensuring that your wishes are followed and that you receive the care you want.
DO NOT RESUSCITATE (DNR) ORDERS
A DNR order instructs medical providers not to provide resuscitation if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. You can also opt for a do not intubate (DNI) order if you do not want to be intubated. DNR and DNI orders can be issued at your request and will be added to your medical record.
ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION
You can register as an organ and tissue donor in advance or include your wishes in your advance directive. Organ donation can provide life-saving transplants for people waiting for a donor. However, it’s important to note that life-sustaining treatment may need to be provided before organ and tissue donation can occur.
PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR LIFE-SUSTAINING TREATMENT (POLST)
A POLST is a set of medical orders that spells out your medical treatment preferences. This document is intended for people diagnosed with a severe illness and must be signed by a physician. To avoid discrepancies in the future, your physician will include this in your medical record.
Protect Your Rights To Decide for Yourself With Advanced Medical Directives
No one knows what the future holds. An advance medical directive is a way to protect your rights and ensure that your wishes are followed if you become incapacitated or die.
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