Writing an advance directive legal document is essential in helping you plan for your healthcare needs while incapacitated.
If you have specific desires for what kind of medical care you wish to receive and cannot consent yourself, an advance directive is used to make sure your wishes are followed. They are binding and must be followed by any doctors or physicians treating you.
Before writing an advance directive yourself it’s absolutely crucial to make sure you understand correctly how to choose and prepare your document. We’ve gathered 4 key tips to help get yours right and access your desired type of healthcare if you fall ill or are injured.
There are 3 Types of Advance Directives
There are several types of advance directives that can be used both by patients and medical professionals. However, the 3 most common kinds allow individuals to pre-establish their future care preferences, these are:
- Living wills: These set out written instructions that medical professionals can consult before performing essential treatment and interventions.
- Medical Power of Attorney (POA): where the patient gives authority to a friend or relative (who acts as their Attorney-in-Fact) to consent to medical decisions for them. Usually, principals granting Medical Power of Attorney will consult with their agent either in writing or in person on what treatment they wish or wish not to receive prior to signing the form.
- Health care proxy: Another similar legal document that allows you to appoint another person (or proxy) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate yourself.
What Type of Advance Directive Is the Best?
The type of advanced directive that you choose will ultimately depend on your individual circumstances. The key difference is some are best for severe and sudden illnesses whilst others work better when you become mentally incapacitated through advanced age.
A living will is the best for someone suffering from a terminal illness or who wishes to plan ahead in the case of any future accidents. This is because it is usually only applicable once the patient has entered a coma or has become fully physically disabled.
Medical Powers of Attorney and healthcare proxies on the other hand are usually better suited to helping an individual prepare for old age. This is because they come into effect only after the patient in question is unable to make medical decisions for themselves and allows a trusted agent to step in.
There Are a Few Situations Where an Advance Directive Can be Crucial
Many people use advance directives to plan for sickness and advanced age. They are normally only activated in the event of a loss of decision-making capacity and to ensure that an individual’s medical wishes are respected in the event of a sudden illness or a health emergency.
In most cases, advanced directives will come into effect after you have fallen into a coma, suffered a stroke, or experienced any medical issue that prevents you from consenting to treatment.
For example, someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal condition like cancer may create an advance directive to opt out of invasive treatment during the final phases of the disease.
Despite the fact that most people intend to use these legal instruments when they are elderly or already sick, an advanced directive form can be completed and signed at any age once you are over 18. This lets individuals create contingency plans well ahead of any sudden illness or incapacity in the future.
Don’t Forget to Add These Details to your Advance Directive
When you write your own advance directive it is important you give as much information as possible about your desired treatment and values judgments. These will help your appointed agent or a doctor clearly see your preferences and act on them quickly and effectively.
You will usually need to include the following details:
- The name and contact details of your (agent([https://www.lawdistrict.com/legal-dictionary/agent]
- Your healthcare values and choices
- Medical treatments you will accept or refuse
- Preferences for where you would like to receive care
- Whether or not you are happy to donate your organs or tissues
- The signatures of you and your agent
Communicate Your Decisions to Your Family First
It’s sensible to talk through your choice of healthcare decisions, agent, and treatment preferences with close family before enacting an advance directive.
This can be crucial as family members can potentially overrule an individual’s advance directive. The illness, possible death, or sudden incapacity of a close relative can, unfortunately, lead to disagreements on the right course of action, especially if the choices haven’t been properly communicated.
In extreme cases, family members can potentially overturn your document. This usually requires the dissenting family members to bring the matter to court and for a judge to pass temporary conservatorship.
However, this doesn’t often happen especially if it can be shown that you came to your own decision without external pressures or duress to sign the document. This is also why you should choose an agent who will comply with your wishes.
Whilst your family can ultimately remove a delinquent agent, it can be a lengthy and difficult process. The idea of an advance directive is to create peace of mind rather than extra challenges of course.
Advanced directives are a great way to prepare for situations where medical intervention becomes more likely. They give elderly or terminally ill people much greater control over their wellbeing and allow their wishes to be followed should an emergency arise.
It’s easy to documents that appoint trusted agents online. Simply use our legal form writing tools to get your future wishes properly looked after.