Why You Need Advanced Directives

After you’ve drafted your Will to protect your assets and family, you should consider drafting advanced directive documents to state your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event you become incapacitated. Two of the most common types of advanced directives are a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney, which both only take effect if you become unable to express your wishes about your care due to an illness or accident. These documents dictate the type of treatment you want and designate someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Without any advance directive documents, your family and doctors won’t know your wishes regarding medical care in the event you can’t speak for yourself. In most states, your advance directives can state what life-prolonging treatments you’d want if you are terminally ill or incapacitated, such as:

  • transfusions of blood and blood products
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • diagnostic tests or surgery
  • administration of pain medications
  • use of a respirator

In many states you can combine your Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney into one document. For information on your state’s advanced directive requirements, visit: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_aging/resources/health_care_decision_making/Stateforms.html

Legal plan members have access to attorneys that can draft advanced directives or review documents already made. Since each state has different requirements for these documents, it’s important to seek the expertise of an attorney to ensure that the documents are filled out correctly and that they state your wishes clearly.