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What Are Advance Medical Directives and why they are Important?

Most of us like to think that we will stay healthy forever. So, we don’t like to think about what we would do if we had to make a tough health care decision. And for this reason, very few people have prepared an advance medical directive.

But writing an advance medical directive is a good idea because sudden end-of-life situations can happen to anyone. Just like with estate planning, you can write down your health care wishes in a legal document. This article shows you what steps you can take to prepare your advance medical directive.

Preparing an Advance Medical Directive

An advance medical directive is also called a living will, advance care planning, or a health care power of attorney. It is a legal document that lists your health care decisions if you can’t make them for yourself.

You can create your directive on your own or get help from a lawyer. You get to decide what is the better option for you. But once you do have an advance medical directive you will get the end-of-life care that you want. And your family, friends, and medical team will not have to make such hard decisions for you when the time comes.

Health Care Proxy

The first thing to do is to pick your health care proxy because every advance medical directive needs one. A health care proxy is the person who you choose to make sure that your family and medical team follow your wishes when you cannot express them for yourself.

Your health care proxy is the person who will tell your doctor or other family members what to do. And they might have to tell your family your wishes even though the decision could end your life. So, you need to be sure to pick the right person.

Choosing the Right Health Care Proxy

We know that this is a tough choice to make. Here are some ideas to help you choose the right person for your health care proxy. You will need to pick someone who:

  • you are close to
  • is not afraid to make decisions
  • is easy to get a hold of and can come in person when needed
  • will show a lot of kindness when telling everyone your wishes

Picking your health care proxy is only the first step. You will need other details in your health care directive.

What to Put in Your Advance Medical Directive

The parts of an advance medical directive that you need to write down are:

  • your health care proxy’s name
  • the kinds of medical care that you do want
  • the kinds of medical care that you do not want
  • your wishes if you are disabled
  • where you would like to get your medical care
  • if you want to be an organ donor

Estate Planning

Just as you set out your plans for your health care, you can also set out your wishes for what happens when you pass away, or your estate planning. An estate is another word for all of your property, money, and other valuables. You can do your estate planning at the same time you are preparing your advance medical directive.

And you are wise to do both at the same time, for the same reasons. You get to decide the important decisions about your estate so that your family and friends know your wishes.

Final Steps in Preparing Your Advance Medical Directive

When you finish writing your advance medical directive, and you have chosen your health care proxy, your next step is to make your written wishes a legal document. You will need to ask two adults to witness your signature. Each state has its own laws about who can be a witness, so be sure to check the laws in your state.

Writing down your health care and estate wishes is a smart decision. You will protect your friends, family, and medical team from the burden of some tough decisions. Once you have your advance medical directive and estate plan, keep them in a safe place.