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The biggest reason that approximately 75% of Americans do not have any form of advanced medical directives is they really don’t know what those are.

An advanced medical directive, sometimes known as a health care proxy, which is a legal document you can execute to speak for you regarding your medical treatment if you are incapacitated, also allows you to designate someone to make your healthcare decisions. Unfortunately, most people do not know what an advanced medical directive is or what it actually accomplishes.

In some states, both of these functions are contained in the same legal document, such as New York where it is called a Health Care Proxy (New York law does not recognize living wills). In others, two separate documents are required that often go by the names health care power of attorney and living will.

The Savannah Morning News recently published “Myths and facts about advanced medical directives” that gives a good rundown regarding what people erroneously think these documents do versus what they really do, including:

  • People think living wills are only for when they want to tell doctors not to treat them. This is not true. The living will allows you to choose when to and when not to receive treatment.
  • If you name a power of attorney for healthcare decisions you do not lose your ability to make your own decisions as some people believe. The power of attorney’s power only kicks in if you are incapacitated.
  • Sometimes people think advanced medical directives are only for the elderly, but that is not true. Anyone can get in an accident or become ill and need someone else to temporarily make their health care decisions.

An estate planning attorney can work with you to create an advanced medical directive.

Reference: Savannah Morning News (Feb. 22, 2016) “Myths and facts about advanced medical directives

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.