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Health Care Directive: What is it and who Needs One?

Caregivers are sometimes faced with tough decisions when it comes to the medical care of a loved one. A health care directive involves a set of written orders given by an individual in advance so that those who are responsible for his or her care are able to act in a manner consistent with what that patient would have chosen if able.

There are actually different types of health care directives, and some of the more common ones include:

Living Will -Provides specific instructions concerning medical treatment in the event an individual is unable to make decisions about his or her own care. This document usually spells out what if any medical treatments should be given if the patient becomes critically ill or injured. Some things this document may cover include whether or not to allow resuscitation or the use of life support.

Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney-This is a document that names a specific person who is to make medical decisions on behalf of another in the event a patient is unable to communicate his or her wishes. The person who is named in this document is normally referred to as an “attorney-in-fact.”

Combination Documents- Contains information concerning specific medical treatment in addition to naming a certain individual to make healthcare decisions. Several versions of these combination documents exist, with two of the most common ones being Five Wishes and MyDirectives.

Who can benefit?

While a health care directive is normally thought of as being necessary for senior citizens or the critically ill, the fact is that anyone can benefit from having them. Just because an individual is young and in fairly good health does not mean that he or she could not be involved in an unfortunate accident and wind up in critical condition. Without an advance health care directive, life-altering decisions could wind up being made by physicians or even government officials rather than those who are closest to the patient.

Here at the law offices of James C. Shields, our estate planning lawyers know that providing a health care directive can be difficult, but is nonetheless important. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible so that you can have peace of mind knowing your wishes will be respected should you fall on dire circumstances. To find out more, contact us.

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