doctor with female patient

Yes, the importance of the directive is that it makes your wishes known.

An advance directive is a way to make sure your wishes are known to another person or persons and by legally conveying them in advance, making sure you have a say, even when you don’t have a voice, according to the Enid News & Eagle in “Veteran Connection: What you should know about advance directives“.

The health care advance directive helps family members and your doctors understand your wishes about medical care. The wishes you express through the two documents described below require reflection on values, beliefs, views on medical treatments, quality of life during intense medical care and may even touch on spiritual beliefs.

The goal is to prepare so your wishes are followed when you are no longer able to express them. This can include situations like end-of-life care, the use of a respirator to breathe for you, or who you want to be in the room with you when you are near death.

It should be noted that a health care advance directive also includes a mental health component that extends to making decisions on your behalf when there are mental health issues, not just physical issues.

There are two types of documents: a health care proxy and, in some states, a living will.

The health care proxy lets you name a person you trust to make health care decisions when you cannot make them for yourself. This person is called your health care agent and will have the legal right to make these decisions. If you don’t have this in place, your doctor will decide who should speak for you. They may rely on order of relationships: a legal guardian, spouse, adult child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or a close friend.

A living will is a document that communicates what kind of health care you want if you become critically ill and cannot make decisions for yourself. This helps your named person and your doctor make decisions about your care that align with your own wishes. In states like NY, where there is no living will statute, your estate planning attorney can guide you on how to alert your agent(s) to your specific wishes regarding such matters as artificial nutrition and hydration while you are still healthy and able to do so.

Reference: Enid News & Eagle (March 13, 2019) “Veteran Connection: What you should know about advance directives

For more information on elder law and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

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