The importance of having an advanced healthcare directive

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Estate Planning

One aspect of estate planning is preparing for the unexpected. An advanced healthcare directive is a document that helps your medical team know how to proceed in the event you are in an incapacitated state and unable to make your own medical decisions.

According to Stanford Medicine Magazine, there are two main parts – choosing a healthcare agent and stating how you want your treatment to be – of the form. Although this document is not a requirement, it allows you to have control over your medical care.

Choosing a healthcare power of attorney

Part one is choosing your decision maker, and different names for this role include healthcare power of attorney, agent, surrogate and proxy. You should choose someone you trust, and a good friend or family member is a common choice. Some important traits of this individual include:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Understands your values and beliefs
  • Is willing to speak up about, and defend, your wishes to those who disagree
  • Is able to ask questions of the medical team
  • Can make difficult decisions quickly

It is important to talk with your agent so he or she knows what you want. You can have your agent make all decisions, or you can limit which decisions to make.

Stating your healthcare choices

Along with telling your healthcare agent, you should state what you want from your treatment on the directive, so there are no questions about it. The California Courts discusses that you should give consent or refuse consent to the types of treatment and care. These include CPR, feeding tube, dialysis, ventilator, IV, pain medication and surgery.

You can also select your healthcare team and hospital or hospice program. You can give authority as to whom has access to your medical information and state wishes for organ or tissue donation.

On the healthcare directive, you can state whether your agent has the power to begin making decisions now or only when a doctor says you are unable to make them yourself. You can also change the directive at any time.