Health Care Directives
Health Care Directives are the broad characterization of what can be several documents relating to an individual’s health care choices. Most notably, these included healthcare powers of attorney and advance directives or living wills.
As with durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney allow you (the principal) to designate an agent (the healthcare attorney-in-fact) to make medical decisions when you cannot make them on your own – either because of a lack of capacity or inability to effectively communicate those decisions on your own. The types of decisions your health care attorney-in-fact can make for you are very broad – consents to surgery, X-rays, admission or discharge, type of treatment, mental health and even electro-shock treatment. Of course, you have the ability to limit, define or impose limitations on your attorney-in-fact’s ability to act – if you have executed a health care power of attorney.
Health Care Directive also cover advance directives or living wills, in which you are able to state what kind of medical care or withholding or withdrawal of medical care you want in the event of a terminal illness, lack of consciousness or severe cognitive deficit. Many people are familiar with the case of Terri Schiavo in Florida and the lengthy debate between her parents and husband over the withdrawal of life-prolonging measures. The Advance Directive is designed to avoid such scenarios by establishing an individual’s personal preference for such treatment (or withdrawal or treatment) while they have the ability to formulate their own opinions on the matter.
Health Care Directives are an important part of the estate planning process. Sodoma Law’s Estate Planning attorneys will walk you through the process of selecting your agents and identifying the choices (and limitations) you want regarding your health care decisions.
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