Why You Should Have an Advance Healthcare Directive

Proper estate planning ensures that your wishes are carried out upon your passing or if you should become incapacitated due to injury or illness. An advance healthcare directive is a vital component of proper estate planning that grants medical providers and your loved ones with the information they need in order to make the most appropriate decisions about your medical care. While many believe that advance healthcare directives are only for the elderly, it is important to remember that unexpected accidents or illnesses can occur at any age, and so individuals at every stage of life will benefit greatly from the development of an advance healthcare directive.

Creating an Advance Healthcare Directive

Advance healthcare directives, which are also known as living wills, state your wishes and preferences for medical care should you become incapacitated and unable to express these wishes yourself. Some of these preferences may include resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis and comfort care. An advance healthcare directive also allows you to express whether you wish to donate your body or organs for scientific research.

A medical power of attorney, also known as a healthcare proxy, is also typically considered when creating an advance healthcare directive. A medical power of attorney is a document that gives a family member, friend or other trusted individual the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. Designating the right person for this job is crucial: someone who serves as your healthcare proxy should be knowledgeable of your medical history and your wishes for care and be able to effectively advocate on your behalf should disagreements arise.  

A copy of your advance healthcare directive should be given to your healthcare proxy, as well as your spouse and adult children. You should also provide a copy to your doctor and other medical care providers.

When to Review and Update Your Advance Healthcare Directive

You should review your advance healthcare directive periodically to ensure it still reflects your wishes for medical care. You will also want to review your medical power of attorney to make sure that the individual you have designated is still willing and able to take on this role.

Enlisting the Help of an Estate Planning Attorney

Advance healthcare directives are governed by Maryland state law, and enlisting the assistance of a reputable estate planning attorney will help you to make certain that you have drafted your advance healthcare directive in accordance with state law. If you would like to draft an advance healthcare directive or have questions about creating an advance healthcare directive, the probate process or other estate planning issues, contact Alexander A. Hassani of Hassani, Focas & Fifer, P.A. today.

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