There may come a time in your life when you can’t make your own health care decisions for any number of reasons, including injury or severe illness.
However, one thing you can be in control of and that’s being prepared in advance in case of that awful day happening.
This is when an advance directive document comes into play as they tell your medical providers and caregivers what you want to happen if you can’t make these decisions on your own.
So, putting it simply, a living will is an advance directive that allows you to make decisions about medical treatments should you be unable to communicate them – it’s, therefore, best to make a living will when you’re healthy and before you have any surgery.
You don’t want your family arguing or trying to guess what you wanted to have done if you become incapacitated so, a living will is essential as they are detailed and explain what you wish for.
There are several advance directives, including a health care power of attorney, a living will, and a DNR (do not resuscitate) order.
Having it written down in a document can give you extreme peace of mind that in the event of an end-of-life situation, you will be taken care of medically in a way in which you wish – including organ and tissue donation.
A living will could be thought of an advance directive document that can list your end-of-life care medical preferences.
It is intended to be legal evidence of your medical care wishes in certain health care situations, but it doesn’t give anyone the ability to make decisions for you.
Living wills often include medical treatments you might or might not want should you become incapable of making the advance care decision yourself.
These can include:
- DNR (do not resuscitate) orders
- Use of oxygen by intubation
- Hydration and assisted feeding
- Pain medication
- Organ donation
- Feeding tubes
- What type of funeral preferred
- Decision-makers for you
- Blood transfusions and any surgery
- Active intervention for purposes of changing your incapacitation
- Whether you want to remain in the hospital or go home
- Any type of medication
Durable Power of Attorney (POA)
Durable powers of attorney help you plan for unexpected medical situations and any decline in your mental abilities, and they can also ensure that your finances are taken care of.
Having these legal documents in place helps eliminate any confusion and uncertainty when family members have to make tough medical decisions in your place.
A general durable power of attorney both sanctions someone, such as a family member, to act in a wide range of legal as well as business matters and remains in effect even if you are incapacitated.
The POA can take effect immediately or can become effective only if you are incapacitated – however. They cannot make a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order.
Therefore it allows someone, usually loved ones, to make decisions on your behalf.
Medical Power of Attorney
So, if you are unable to make decisions about your health care and want to appoint someone to communicate with medical staff and to make medical decisions for you – a medical POA ensures someone speaks for you to make sure your wishes are carried out if you are terminally ill.
So, this type of legal document details the medical treatment you want if you are at the end of your life and can no longer communicate.
As the Eastman Law Firm can explain, an attorney for health care names someone to make medical decisions any time you are unable to do it yourself, even if you are expected to make a full recovery.