FAQs About Advance Directives

Posted on

A major part of elder law revolves around future healthcare plans. You must decide what kind of care you want and put this in writing in case you are incapacitated. One option for settling the matter is to create an advance directive. If you are planning to do so, here is what you need to know. 

What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is simply a document that details your healthcare wishes. It also designates a person to make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you are unable to. For instance, if you were in a coma, the designee would review the treatment options available and make the decision. 

The directive does not have an expiration date. A directive is considered to be valid until you make changes to it or create a new one. Therefore, it is important that you periodically re-evaluate your directive to ensure that it still accurately reflects your healthcare wishes. 

What Should Be In Your Advance Directive?

Some states have standard advance-directive forms that can be filled out and used by anyone. However, some people choose to create their forms to ensure that every situation is thoroughly considered. If you are thinking of creating your own, there are a few things to remember. 

For instance, it is important to choose a healthcare proxy you trust. The proxy is the person responsible for making healthcare decisions for you. Ideally, you should select someone who has similar views regarding medical decisions. You do not have to choose a family member as your proxy. 

It is also a good idea to select an alternate proxy. If the original designee is unable to serve, the alternate can step in and make decisions. If you fail to include an alternate, the matter of who gets to make healthcare decisions for you could be decided by the court. 

In addition to choosing your proxy, you need to have a firm understanding of the medical situations that could occur so that you can cover those in your directive. Your doctor is a good resource for determining which conditions or situations are most likely. He or she can also help you understand the range of treatments available for those conditions. 

Once you have completed your directive, get it notarized. Even if your state does not require notarization, doing so could be useful in case there are challenges to it by family members. To determine what other future planning you need to complete, work with an elder law attorney, such as one from David S. Riehl, Attorney At Law.