What are Advance Directives for Health Care?
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Advance Directives for Health Care are actually three legal documents rolled into one: Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Appointment of a Health Care Representative. Together, they comprise one of the most important steps you can take in letting your family and doctor know what your wishes are for your own medical care.
Health Care Power of Attorney
You can choose a person to serve as your power of attorney for health care decisions during the times when you can’t make a decision for yourself. That person will be able to do any or all of the following:
Employ health care providers
Consent to or refuse health care for you
Admit or release you from a hospital or health care facility
Have access to your medical records
Make anatomical gifts
Request an autopsy
Make plans for the disposition of your body
A Living Will clarifies your wishes for life‑prolonging procedures to be withheld or withdrawn so that you can be permitted to die naturally. Your attending physician must first certify in writing that: (1) you have an incurable injury, disease, or illness; (2) your death will occur within a short time; and (3) the use of life‑prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process.
All medical procedures and medications which are necessary to provide you with comfort, care, and the alleviation of pain will be continued. In addition, you can make your wishes known regarding artificially supplied food and water. If, on the other hand, you wish to have medical procedures continued under such circumstances, you can sign a Life‑Prolonging Declaration rather than a Living Will.
Appointment of Health Care Representative
Your Health Care Representative will be the person who ensures your Living Will is enforced when you are unable to do so. This person will consult with your doctor as well as other family members, if appropriate.
Advance Directives for Health Care are an essential part of your estate plan. Our experienced attorneys can help you be prepared by having this document in place before an accident or tragedy strikes. Simply call our office or go online to schedule an appointment.