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Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Primer on Advance Medical Directives

How can I plan ahead for my medical care

A well designed estate plan can help you achieve a number of objectives, most of which are geared toward protecting your assets and providing for your loved ones after you pass away. At the same time, it is equally important to plan for the type of medical care you prefer to receive in the event of an accident or illness that renders you unable to make these decisions. In short, it is essential to plan for incapacity by creating advance medical directives, such as a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will.

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

Also referred to as a healthcare proxy, allows you to designate a trusted family member or friend to make medical care decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. This person acts as your agent and works with your doctors so that they provide the type of medical care you prefer.

By failing to prepare a healthcare proxy, your loves ones will need to ask the court to  appoint someone to make these decisions. Putting this advance medical directive in place will relieve family members of this burden and ensure that you will receive the type of medical treatment you prefer in an emergency.

Living Will

A living will is specifically designed to clarify the type of medical care you should receive if you become terminally ill and are unable to make decisions about end of life treatment or cannot speak for yourself. In short, this advance medical directive established whether life prolonging measures, such as a ventilator or a feeding tube, should be used.

Other Essential Healthcare Documents

Another important document is a do not resuscitate order or DNR which is necessary if you become critically ill and do want extraordinary measures taken to prolong your life. In a medical emergency, a DNR notifies doctors, nurses and emergency personnel not to use cardiopulmonary  resuscitation to keep you alive. Finally, to ensure that other organizations or healthcare providers can gain access to your medical records and history, a HIPAA authorization (required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) must also be completed.

While thinking about becoming ill and not being able to communicate is unpleasant, planning ahead  

by putting in place advance medical care directives will give you peace of mind. In the end, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.


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