An advance medical directive ensures your healthcare wishes and needs are met in instances where you are unable to communicate them. As a general rule of thumb, a comprehensive estate plan should always contain an advance medical directive—here, the estate planning attorneys at Rodier Family Law explain what an advance medical directive should contain and why you should have one drafted.
The Benefits of Creating an Advance Medical Directive
An advance medical directive, in conjunction with a living will, are written documents that allows you to maintain control of your healthcare decisions in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. An advance medical directive and living will can cover issues such as resuscitation, life support, palliative care, medication preferences, artificial feeding or hydration and more. A health care agent may also be appointed, which gives a trusted individual the legal right to make medical decisions on your behalf that align with your best interests.
Creating an advance medical directive and appointing a health care agent not only better ensures you are treated in accordance with your desires, but also helps to prevent familial disputes and unnecessary delays to treatment.
Requirements for Drafting and Enacting an Advance Medical Directive
An advance medical directive must be made voluntarily by the patient, and the patient must be in a competent state when drafting and signing it. The advance medical directive must be dated and signed by the patient and two witnesses, neither of whom may be a health care agent for the patient, and at least one of the witnesses must not stand to financially benefit from the death of the patient.
Bases on how an advance medical directive is drafted it can go into effect immediately or once the attending physician and another doctor certify in writing that the patient can no longer make an informed decision. Generally, in the second instance, both physicians must personally examine the patient for the advance medical directive to officially be enacted.
Responsibilities of a Health Care Agent
If you designate a health care agent in your advance medical directive, they have the duty to ensure the medical treatments performed are in your best interest. As such, a health care agent should take into consideration your current diagnosis, prognosis, past actions and beliefs, religious views, expressed concerns and any other information they have regarding your feelings on specific treatment. A health care agent’s decision may not be made based on your economic disadvantage or long term physical or mental disability, and health care agents do not have the right to authorize sterilization or treatment for a mental disorder.
Draft an Advance Medical Directive Today with the Skilled Assistance of an Estate Planning Attorney
An advance medical directive is a valuable estate planning tool for anyone, regardless of their age or current medical condition. The estate planning attorneys at Rodier Family Law know that an advance medical directive ensures peace of mind for the family and loved ones of a patient, preventing undue stress, frustration and hardship. If you or a loved one wish to create an advance medical directive, or need to prepare a full estate plan, contact Rodier Family Law today!