What Types of Treatment Would You Want – Or Not Want – In Different Medical Situations?
An Advance Health Care Directive is an essential planning document for anyone over the age of 18. It becomes particularly important as we get older and begin to think about our own mortality, and the types of care and treatment we would or would not want to receive in different medical situations.
The Advance Health Care Directive is a way for you to clearly communicate your wishes regarding your own medical treatment. It typically contains three parts:
1. Health Care Power of Attorney: This lets you name someone as your health care agent to make and communicate decisions about your medical care – including decisions about life-sustaining treatment – if you can no longer speak for yourself. The health care power of attorney is especially useful because it appoints someone to speak for you anytime you are unable to make your own medical decisions, not only at the end of your life.
Your health care agent may be a family member or a close friend whom you trust to make serious decisions. The person you name as your health care agent should clearly understand your wishes and be willing to accept the responsibility of making health care decisions for you.
2. Living Will: Your living will enable you to express your wishes about the types of care you would – or would not – want to receive in different scenarios. It can also include your wishes regarding the aggressiveness of treatment you would prefer, end of life treatment and organ donation.
A Living Will can be a great gift to your loved ones by minimizing the potential for disagreements between well-meaning family members who may disagree about what is “best for you.” Putting your wishes in writing will also spare your loved ones the worry and guilt of wondering if their choices on your behalf are what you would really want.
3. HIPAA Authorization: Your HIPAA Authorization gives your health care providers permission to communicate about your medical condition and care with your agent and any other people you choose.
We understand that questions of end-of-life care and life-sustaining treatment may require consideration of an individual’s spiritual or religious beliefs. We have created estate plans incorporating Catholic Living Wills and Halachic Living Wills, and we welcome the opportunity to work with clients of all faiths. We will work closely with you to help you express your wishes in a legal document consistent with your values and the teachings of your faith.